If you are contemplating dating while in the midst of a divorce, it is important to understand the possible effect this choice may have on your divorce proceedings or, even worse, on the custody of your children. Massachusetts law does not bar divorcing spouses from entering new relationships before their divorce is complete; however, there are many subsidiary issues that can arise when you start dating before your marriage is over.
Although not illegal per se, there are some potential legal consequences for dating during a divorce. For instance, entering a new relationship could potentially result in a temporary order that states the children cannot be in the presence of any significant others. If you’ve started dating and spent a significant amount of money on your new love interest, that amount could still be considered divisible within the divorce.
The biggest consequence is usually because of an emotional response. Divorce is an emotionally charged experience. It is very hard for people to look at dividing up their property and children as a business transaction. There are feelings of anger, resentment, disdain, mistrust, and disappointment often rampant. Throwing in jealousy and more anger probably will not help the divorce process go smoother. And the more complicated the divorce, generally the more it will cost you financially to get through it.
Because our dedicated team has over 35 years of exclusive family law experience, O’Connor Family Law can help you navigate these complex issues during the divorce process.
How Dating May Impact Custodial Rights during Divorce Hearings
When a divorcing party decides to date before their case is finalized, this decision may impact his or her custodial rights and responsibilities. For example, if you end up in front of a Judge who does not believe it is ever in the children’s best interest to be around a new significant other before the divorce is finalized, you may find yourself with some type of prohibitive order not allowing the kids around anyone you’re in a relationship with. This can be difficult if you end up moving in with your significant other. If your new partner has a criminal record, it’s possible that the Court holds that against you with a question of whether you can make good judgments when it comes to the health and safety of your children.
Effects on Alimony When Entering a New Relationship during Divorce
Massachusetts law permits alimony payments to be diminished, interrupted, or eliminated if the paying party can prove that the receiving spouse has lived with his or her new partner for a minimum of three months. This means that if someone is receiving alimony and moves in with their new partner before or after the final divorce decree is entered, his or her spousal support may change. Our experienced attorneys can explain to what extent alimony could be interrupted if a divorcing spouse decides to start dating or moves in with their new partner.
As stated previously, besides the potential negative effect on custodial rights, parenting time, and alimony, dating during divorce may result in more tension throughout the process. When there is tension between divorcing spouses, this can make the process more challenging and tumultuous.
If you decide to date, don’t involve your children. Do not go about publishing your dating life on social media. Take on the viewpoint of less is more. Keep it quiet and out of the limelight so it doesn’t enter the spotlight during your divorce.
If you decide to date, do not bring your new love interest to court with you. It almost never helps settle the case and, in the worst case, can be used against you by your spouse’s attorney in front of the Judge.
We’ve also seen (or maybe been the attorney) to bring in the other spouse’s dating profile into court to prove they are either lying about their income or something else within the divorce process. If you are going to throw up a profile on Match or Tinder, don’t boast about having a six-figure income or owning property that you’re not disclosing within the divorce. It will be found and used against you. And unless you’re just signing up for a free profile, the charge for the dating service will be undiscovered within your financial records. A good attorney will do a search of social media and dating sites to see if there’s anything to uncover. Don’t be on the wrong end of that search.
Some people cannot imagine dating again while going through or after a divorce. For other people, they are divorcing because they miss the closeness of being in a caring relationship and they are anxious to try to find that. Just make sure that, if you are going to start dating, you have addressed any issues you may have had during the marriage. It’s important to realize your involvement in why the marriage broke down so you can make sure you don’t step into that same pattern with someone else to simply end up with the same result later on down the road.
Our Attorneys Can Answer Your Legal Questions about Dating during Divorce
Depending on your situation, there might be legal consequences for dating during a divorce. With that being said, deciding to enter a new relationship is a highly private decision and may help one party move forward. If you decide to date, make sure you know how to protect yourself and your children during the divorce process.
If you have concerns about dating before or while your divorce is still pending, you should speak with our lawyers at O’Connor Family Law. We can offer you sound legal advice based on the specifics of your situation and our experience. Our team can help you fully understand your legal rights and what options may be available to you.
Additionally, we can explain the potential outcomes that could result if you choose to date before your divorce is finalized so you walk into the situation with your eyes wide open. Call today to learn how we can help you through the divorce process.