Can I Date During the Divorce Process?

No definitive answer exists on whether you should date during the divorce process. If you’ve been living like roommates with your soon-to-be-ex or separated for some time, it’s natural for you to want to move on with your life and restore your faith in love and relationships. Yet, dating during the divorce process can have legal consequences, so you need all the information to make the best choice for your circumstances. We’ve developed this short guide to help you examine the potential consequences of dating before your divorce is finalized. We also provide some useful tips if you choose to date during the divorce process.

Child Custody

During the divorce process, your spouse will likely put everything you do related to parenting under the microscope if you have children. If you are struggling with agreeing on the terms of custody, including the amount of parenting time for each person, you can expect your spouse to use your new relationship against you. Whether it’s true or not, your spouse could argue that your children aren’t getting needed attention because you are spending too much time with your new partner.

As you are negotiating a custody arrangement, your new relationship might also factor into your parenting schedule. Sometimes, those going through a divorce make choices to give them more time with a new partner. If the new relationship doesn’t last longer than a few months or even a year, parents often regret using this relationship to guide decisions about parenting time.

Spousal Support

If your spouse finds out you are dating during the divorce process, you could suffer financially if you expect to be on the receiving end of spousal support payments. Courts typically view spousal support as a temporary action to give the lower-earning partner the time to rebuild their life and find solid financial ground. The ultimate goal of spousal support is to allow one enough time to get back on their feet to independently support themselves. If you begin dating a new person during your divorce, you risk the court ordering a lower amount of support. This is especially true if you choose to move in with a new partner prior to finalizing your divorce. In fact, your spouse might try to stop your spousal support payments completely.

If you earn the most income in your marriage and you have to pay spousal support, your ex might be hurt by your new relationship and want to punish you. In these cases, you can expect a hard fight for the maximum amount of support that the court will award.

Property Division

Part of the divorce process is dividing real estate, personal property, and financial assets between you and your spouse as you separate your lives. Dating during divorce could result in receiving fewer assets in the divorce. Many spouses assume that if their soon-to-be-ex is dating, he or she is also using marital assets. This could mean using money to take trips, go out to dinner, or buy expensive gifts.

In some cases, this means supporting a new partner financially, shopping, and spending more on health and beauty services. It doesn’t matter if these things are true or not. If you are dating and your spouse perceives them to be true, it can turn an amicable divorce into a nasty fight over marital assets. In many cases, couples come to the joint realization that it’s time to end their marriage. They work together to make a clean break. For example, you might offer to pay your spouse one lump sum of spousal support in exchange for keeping the house, or vice versa. A new relationship on either side can quickly take these friendly agreements off the table.

Emotional Considerations

Aside from the death of a loved one, divorce ranks near the top as one of the most difficult events that some people go through in life. Even when couples go through a divorce on the best terms possible, emotions run high. A new relationship on either side can trigger bigger emotions, leading to far more tension and conflict during your divorce. If you choose to date, your spouse might want to punish you in every way they can–by using kids, support, assets, and more. He or she might choose to speak out more during meetings. Not only can this make your divorce more emotionally draining, but the longer your divorce takes the more expensive it is, too.

Tips for Dating During a Divorce

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, so no law prohibits you from dating during the divorce process. Ultimately, only you can make the decision about whether to date during the divorce process. If you know dating will set off your spouse, it’s probably in your best interest to wait until your divorce is finalized. On the other hand, if you’ve met someone so incredible and you choose to spend time together, you need to be cautious. In light of the above information, these tips can help you keep the divorce drama to a minimum if you choose to date:

  • Avoid public places with your new partner, especially those close to home or places you used to go with your spouse.
  • If you have children, keep them away from your new partner until your divorce is finalized to help ensure your spouse doesn’t learn about your relationship.
  • Take things slow and avoid moving in with your new partner until after you are divorced to prevent custody and support issues.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today

Divorce is an emotionally traumatic experience that prompts many to move on with life as soon as possible, even if that means dating before the papers are finalized. Dating during the divorce process sometimes impacts divorce agreements and creates more tension. Ensure you are making the right choice for your situation by consulting with an experienced divorce attorney. The skilled legal team at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC understands your desire to live, laugh, and love, and we are here to guide you through your divorce. Contact us today online or at 602-252-1968 to schedule a consultation to discuss your divorce.

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