Should You Date During a Divorce or Wait Until It’s Over?

By:
Michael Tierney
Updated
July 13, 2022

Divorce is a complicated situation in which to find yourself. When a marriage ends, it can be for several reasons, but more often than not, it is because the love you once shared with your spouse has faded. This can be a painful transition for you and your spouse since it signifies the end of your life together. The divorce proceedings are an equally unpleasant process that can eventually deteriorate into an argument depending on the nature of the split.

The stress and turbulence of divorce, especially lengthy ones, can be difficult to get through alone. You might even be considering getting back into the dating world so that there is a silver lining to the dark cloud of divorce.

Unfortunately, dating during a divorce is a controversial concept. Some may view you entering a new relationship while the other is in the process of ending as somewhat underhanded. However, you likely care little about what other people think about your decision.

If you are concerned about whether you should start dating before the divorce is finalized, you are likely a little more worried about how it could affect your divorce proceedings.

Solution The last thing you want is for the divorce to be dragged out when you could have resolved it sooner.

Fortunately, dating before divorce is something that has been commented on before, and we're here to shed some light on these facts.

Let's get started!

Should You Date Before or After the Divorce Ends?

The question that has brought you here today comes with a simple answer.

Solution The general rule is that you should never date until after the divorce is finalized.

Most divorce attorneys will advise you to remain faithful to your soon-to-be ex-spouse for one simple reason. You are still married and expected to uphold your vows until the divorce is finalized. While there are no laws against extramarital affairs, the legal system does not take kindly to such infractions. However, upholding your commitment to your future ex-spouse is so important because dating before you are officially divorced can complicate the entire process.

Woman Making Dating Decision

There is some leeway if you and your spouse have been officially separated for some time. Still, dating before the divorce is finalized usually complicates the proceedings or the new relationship. While a judge is unlikely to outright forbid you from dating before the divorce proceedings are complete, they might be less forgiving if you already have a new partner before the divorce is finalized. However, the courts cannot prevent you from dating who you please or when.

The biggest cause for caution regarding dating during divorce is how the court might interpret your relationship.

Several factors can affect the way you are perceived during divorce negotiations. If you present yourself poorly before the courts while dating someone new, it can cause the judge to favor your spouse in the negotiations that divorce facilitates. The biggest weapon your spouse will have against you and your new partner will be the timing of when you got together.

Accusations of Infidelity

The biggest concern about dating during divorce is that your spouse could allege that the relationship began before the divorce process was started.

The new partner's presence during the proceedings can be an antagonistic force during the hearings and cause your spouse to accuse you of cheating on them with your new partner. These accusations can come even if there is no truth behind them, but they can still cost you some good faith with the presiding judge. Infidelity can profoundly affect your position of power when going through a divorce since it paints your spouse as the victim. This is why dating before the divorce is over is dangerous.

Accusing Partner of Infidelity

If your spouse accuses you of having an affair with your new partner before the divorce begins, they will have more power in the negotiations. In some states, having a new partner during the divorce can lead to your new partner being deposed for the divorce negotiations.

Your spouse's attorney may question your partner about:

  • When your relationship with them began.
  • Whether your relationship is sexual.
  • Whether you have gifted them with any marital property.
  • How much you have spent on dates with your new partner.
  • Whether you have said anything to your new partner that was harmful to your spouse.

Your new partner will likely face a serious inquiry that can put them on the spot as your spouse attempts to prove you were unfaithful. Suppose it becomes apparent that you entered into a relationship with your partner before requesting a divorce from your spouse. In that case, it can jeopardize your ability to secure a preferable agreement on the division of assets and child custody. However, if the relationship began after you were legally separated from your spouse, the odds of being punished in the divorce go down significantly.

Even if your relationship began while legally separated, it complicates the proceedings. There is a lot of emotion surrounding divorce for you, your spouse, and any children you might have. Introducing a new partner in the middle of it all can cause tension and conflict with your family and partner.

Family Conflict

One more personal issue with dating during a divorce is how it affects your family and spouse.

Children are inclined to remain loyal to their parents and will likely view your new partner as an intruder to their family. Divorce affects children in ways many do not realize. They have a less practical view of the world. While you and your spouse might have too severe differences to reconcile, your children may only see it as their parents separating and dissolving the family.

If you begin dating before the divorce is finalized, they might view your new partner as an attempt to replace their other parent. While this is certainly not your intent, it is a significant risk of attempting to find new love as the old one ends. We are not saying you do not deserve happiness, but you need to account for how your pursuit of happiness affects your family so you can be tactful. It is recommended that you not introduce a new partner to your children until six months after the divorce is finalized, but we will touch on that a little later.

Conflict in the Family

In addition to your children, your spouse will likely be upset. Even if things were amicable up to a point, seeing you with a new partner before the divorce is complete can cause emotions to flare. This can cause your spouse to double down on their efforts to generate a more aggressive divorce case against you. No one likes feeling as though they have been replaced, and your spouse will like it even less, hence the earlier point surrounding allegations of infidelity.

Surprising your family with a new partner while the divorce is underway is a surefire way to generate animosity and conflict. It can affect which parent your child is willing to live with and how aggressive your spouse is in the divorce proceedings. However, it can also directly impact the duration of the divorce case as a more irate spouse will pursue their case against you with more fervor. The longer your divorce proceedings, the more it costs you financially. This means dating during the divorce can incur a financial consequence just as it can trigger an emotional consequence.

Financial Consequences

For all the emotional stress they bring, divorce cases are still legal claims that involve a fair amount of cost. Several expenses are associated with civil cases like a divorce that are inescapable if you want to get through the negotiations. This is especially true if an ex parte order is issued on your finances, preventing you from making significant financial transactions.

However, your biggest financial concerns during your divorce will be legal costs such as retaining a divorce attorney and filing fees. Unfortunately, these costs are not strictly one-off transactions where you make a payment and enjoy legal coverage for the entirety of the case.

Your attorney invests a fair amount of time and resources into your case and will have their costs to consider. This means that the investment of time into your specific case will cost them more and more to continue representing you. As their costs go up, so do yours since you will need to continue compensating them until your case is finally resolved. You will also be responsible for filing fees your attorney processes for your case. The longer your case, the more documents get filed and the more compensation your attorney requires.

Financial Consequences

This is all without any potential alimony payments you are expected to pay your spouse if the divorce proceedings favor them. Alimony is more likely when you date during the divorce proceedings since the judge might be more sympathetic to your spouse for the reasons above.

As for the legal expenses, your case is more likely to go on longer if your spouse fights tooth and nail over things that would have been a minor negotiation point if you are dating again. While it might sound petty, your spouse will likely feel hurt at how quickly you were able to move on and feel like they deserve more than they would have asked for originally.

Solution Every new argument extends the duration of the case and increases the costs incurred by your legal representation.

This might seem a little unfair if you have found someone you genuinely care for after your relationship with your spouse has ended. Unfortunately, there is a protocol to follow during divorce proceedings if you do not want to complicate your case or alienate your family.

How to Navigate the Dating World During Divorce

Life is never as simple as just doing what is expected of you. Sometimes, the idea of not dating during your divorce seems simple in theory but becomes impossible to execute as life continues. You never know who you will meet or when, so you may meet a compatible partner in the middle of your divorce.

On a Date During a Divorce

While this is unfortunate timing, there is a rule you must follow to avoid having a new relationship affect your legal standing during the divorce.

  • The most important rule is ensuring you do not even consider pursuing a new relationship until you and your spouse are legally separated. As we mentioned, pursuing a relationship any sooner provides additional tactics for your spouse to use against you.
  • When you do pursue a new relationship, remain discreet and avoid overly intimate encounters. Anything you are not willing to divulge to the court should be avoided, including sexual activity. As we mentioned, you should wait until the divorce is finalized to go on an actual date with the prospective partner.
  • If you want to interact with the prospective partner before the divorce is finalized, consider engaging in group activities with friends rather than one-on-one encounters. Maintaining a friendship with them before dating will not compromise your divorce case.

These rules should be sufficient to prevent any complications in the divorce from your spouse. However, we will again reiterate that waiting until the divorce is finalized is the ideal scenario. With all the emotions surrounding divorce proceedings, dating can be bad for your case and you. Whether you realize it or not, you are dealing with your own emotions during the divorce that can affect your judgment. However, a little research can help you prepare for what divorce entails.

Learn the Law

Divorce is difficult for everyone, and the emotional turbulence of the dissolution of a family can make it difficult to think objectively. The divorce affects you, your spouse, and your children equally, and we know that it is tempting to look for comfort during this process. However, dating during a divorce is an inadvisable course of action. Not only can having a new partner interfere with the strength of your divorce case, but it can also place an undue burden on your new partner as they are roped into the conflict. We are not saying you do not deserve to move on, only that the timing matters.

Learning Divorce Law

Divorce is messy and complicated, even for the legal experts involved. While there is little you can do to reach their level of knowledge, learning about divorce proceedings can help you make informed choices. We hope you can find happiness once your divorce is over, but always remember that not every decision is for the best.

Written By:
Michael Tierney
Michael is a legal writer and graduate of WSU. Prior to becoming a legal writer, he had 6 years of experience as a legal assistant and office manager for a family law attorney. He's written about numerous legal subjects from helping spouses who are stuck in toxic situations to the intricacies of custody battles. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and building custom keyboards.

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