If you are going through a divorce you are well aware of how the process can become burdensome and prolonged. It is normal under such circumstances to want to be able to date freely. However, depending upon the specifics of your divorce, dating can be problematic.
This is why before you start dating — or become involved in a relationship — before your divorce becoming finalized you should consider some basic facts.
Before we start, everything that we are going to mention in this article is opinion-based. We are not attorneys, and you should not view this in any way as legal advice. You should always seek the counsel of your divorce attorney to ascertain what is best for you.
1. You Are Not Truly Free Until the Divorce is Finalized
Usually, when a couple is undergoing a divorce, they will be in a prolonged state of separation before it is ever finalized. This can create feelings of independence and provide further encouragement to start dating. However, in the majority of legal jurisdictions, the two of you are still considered legally married until a divorce has been finalized or another legal agreement has been arrived at regarding your separation.
This is important to be aware of because it is theoretically possible in some areas for your spouse to present your dating as evidence of your propensity for adulterous relationships. In some areas, your spouse could even sue the person who you are dating — primarily if you have established a regular relationship with them — for alienation of affection.
Not only can that adversely impact any divorce settlement, but it can also create unrest with your new partner if they are dragged into the legal proceedings of your divorce. Trust us; nobody wants that.
2. Are Kids Involved?
When children are involved a divorce becomes exponentially more painful. If you add the element of dating during your divorce, you should also take into account how that action is going to be perceived by your kids. While you should not limit seeking out your happiness and moving forward with your life — if you have kids — you should be aware that dating during the divorce or soon after that can create seeds of conflict.
In those situations, it is best for you to have a frank and honest discussion with your children in accordance to their age and maturity regarding the continuation of your romantic life involving other people other than your ex-spouse. By doing so, not only will you minimize the awkwardness that comes when your children must interact with your new partner, but it can also neutralize their predisposition to view your new partner as an interloper into their family.
3. So Dating During a Divorce Is Not a Good Idea?
In our opinion, it would be wrong to make a blanket statement indicating that dating during a divorce is wrong. Yes, it can be problematic, but there are times when it may be the most natural path for you to follow in your personal life.
If you and your spouse have grown distant and have already been living separate lives — especially if this involves living in separate dwellings — it may be easier for the both of you to accept seeing the other start to date again even if the divorce is still in progress. While you should not seek the blessing of your soon-to-be ex-spouse to consider dating, you must also not be blind to the fact that entering the dating game during a divorce can be used as ammunition by your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Usually, the more contentious the divorce, the more cautious you should be about dating before it is finalized. In other words, if you know that your spouse is bitterly fighting your petition for divorce or is trying to squeeze the most out of you in a settlement, the last thing you want to do is to throw gasoline on the fire by dating.
While there is no doubt that being able to engage openly in a relationship with a person whom you have a sincere affection for can be a source of support and empowerment — two things which are nice to have during a divorce — you should also take into consideration whether becoming openly involved with that person does not complicate your divorce proceedings. After all, that, in the long run, can make formalizing a relationship with them much more difficult.
4. Be Tactful
If your divorce situation is such that you feel that dating is appropriate, you should still do so tactfully and cautiously. It is usually best to try and keep you’re dating as discreet as possible. Don’t make yourself publicly available on sites like craigslist casual encounters for example for everyone to see. Even if your divorce is not being contested or if you live in a legal jurisdiction that is considered a “no-fault” state, you should still be cautious as people, especially soon-to-be-ex spouses, can suddenly change in opinion and make something that was otherwise simple incredibly complicated.
5. What It All Comes Down To
Every divorce and every relationship is unique. This means that only you can be the final judge as to whether or not dating during your divorce is a good idea. What we have attempted to do in this article is to make you open your eyes to all of the possible ramifications that such an action could have. This is also why we strongly suggest that you consult your attorney before finalizing any decision on dating during a divorce.
You should also take into consideration factors such as how susceptible you are to the comments and opinions of those around you. It is inevitable that when you go through a divorce, your family and friends are going to opine on the situation. Some will be strong in your favor while others will be against. When you add the element of dating during a divorce, those outside comments and opinions will intensify.
If the world were a perfect place, the opinions of others would matter a hill of beans. However, during a difficult time such as a divorce, you will undoubtedly want the support of those closest to you. This is why if you do decide to date during divorce you should try to identify a select group of those in your inner circle which you can rely on to be there for you regarding emotional support throughout the process.
Divorce is never easy. Dating is not easy either. Combining them may not be suitable for everybody. Before you do, make certain that the benefits outweigh the potential conflicts.