Within weeks of getting served with divorce papers, Chris* downloaded Tinder, set up a profile, and had his first date!
Jennifer’s* friends encouraged her to get out again after a few months of her husband leaving. They even set up a Bumble account (with her permission) and started sifting through the many would-be dates hoping to find the right one for her.
Is it wrong to date while going through a divorce?
You feel ready. The couch and junk food you found solace in is giving way to newer, happier thoughts. You’re eating better and exercising. You have a great job, great support network and are being encouraged to get out.
You have a better understanding of what happened in your marriage and what you are looking for in a future relationship (or better yet, what you are not looking for). You have a better understanding of what it takes to make a relationship function and what would make you happy in one. You feel ready.
Friends are encouraging you to hang out with them at bars or nightclubs. Others are telling you how someone they know met a great guy or gal at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or insert store here.
And as technology evolves, finding someone new is available at the click of a button. Dating apps, websites, and social media have revolutionized the dating culture. And while the dating culture may not be what it was before you were married, it seems it's here to stay.
With its ease of use, many people going through a divorce, like Chris and Jennifer, wonder what the impacts are to divorce and the divorce process if they “swipe right” and start dating.
Dating during divorce: Stay away until the ink has dried on your Final Decree of divorce
Your divorce case will not be fun. You probably already knew this but let me confirm it! No matter the circumstances you have, divorce and splitting up everything will not be easy – even if everything is agreeable.
Are you considering whether or not you should start dating while separated? My personal opinion is to wait. This is not the best time to start a new relationship.
The challenges you will encounter because of dating another person during your divorce will cause completely avoidable issues. Secondly, judges tend to not look favorably upon dating, especially if you have children. You are legally married until the divorce is finalized.
Some of the avoidable issues include fights over child custody (“I don’t want that woman (or man) around my kids!”), fights over spending (“If she has enough money to go out of town with that man, why does she need spousal support” or “If he can wine and dine his girlfriend, he clearly can afford the child support he argues against!”), and more.
What’s more – a spouse dating immediately after the breakup but before the divorce is finalized, has the potential to agitate insecurities and cause otherwise reasonable people to dig in their heels. “She never loved me, look, she is dating already and we’ve been separated less than 3 months!” “I knew he was a lying bastard, he already has a new woman moving in!”
Are these statements true? Who knows – probably not; but truth doesn’t really matter. It is how the other party reacts that matters. Remember the old saying – perception is reality.
Your new love interest will undoubtedly negatively impact your divorce settlement.
What if you were “dating” prior to the end of the marriage?
Sometimes, a husband or wife has been carrying on an extramarital affair for some time before either person became serious about moving toward a divorce. This arrangement can cause significant problems for you in a divorce.
Problems do not only mean your spouse will be upset and angry with you, but those emotions will likely translate into a longer and more highly contested case. Translation: extramarital relationship = anger = lengthier and more contested divorce = much more money spent on your divorce than is probably necessary.
Additionally, under Louisiana law a spouse granted a divorce because of adultery is presumed entitled to final periodic support! Meaning extramarital relationship = anger = lengthier and more contested divorce = much more money spent on your divorce + ALIMONY PRESUMED!
What do you need to tell your divorce attorney about a spouse’s relationship?
Disclose whatever you know to your divorce lawyer no matter how embarrassing it may be. Let your attorney make the determination if it's relevant. It is never a good idea to have anything be a surprise to your lawyer.
How much money has your spouse spent on this person? Do you have bank account records and transactions to back up what you are saying? What about pictures, social media, etc.? Will a private investigator be required to prove the adultery?
A judge may not be that harsh, but your spouse will.
While few Louisiana divorce cases go to trial, there will be certain hearings required – but more importantly, you will have to deal with your soon-to-be ex during the process if things are worked out.
This means a judge will likely never make any decisions regarding the subject matter associated with your or your spouse’s dating activities during your marriage or period of separation.
But, when you attempt to settle your case outside of court you will be asking your former spouse to put differences aside to settle your case in a fair manner.
Common sense tells you this will not be easy and your spouse will have little to no desire to work with you if you have wronged him or her by dating another person during your marriage or shortly after the separation. At a minimum, in most cases, the non-dating spouse makes life more difficult due to the hurt and pain they feel.
The bottom line is this - have a little patience, just a little patience! Your life and future and stress level may depend on it. Do not add fuel to the fire of your divorce by dating while your case is pending.
Questions about dating during divorce?
Loyd J. Bourgeois and his team have had the privilege to represent a wide variety of clients in our practice in Louisiana. No matter your particular circumstances, our experience, and philosophy help ensure you are well-represented in your divorce case and receive common sense, down-to-earth advice to help you move forward to your new future. To learn more about your case and our family law attorneys, contact us today at (985) 240-9773.