Can I Start Dating Before My Divorce Is Finalized?
People often ask friends, family, and therapists when is the best time to date again after divorce.
No matter the answer your heart tells you, there is one answer important to your legal proceedings: after the divorce is final.
Dating while separated, but not yet divorced, can cause problems for your legal proceedings. In North Carolina, the divorce process starts with one year of separation. For many, that’s a busy year emotionally. Many aren’t ready to even consider dating. But sometimes, loneliness pinches or we are caught off guard by our feelings toward another person.
Why Wait to Date
Still, it’s best to avoid dating until the legal process is complete. Here are three reasons your lawyer will likely agree*:
- Dating might be interpreted as adultery. If you begin dating too soon, your spouse’s attorney may use that against you. If the judge believes that one partner has been unfaithful, he/she may put the “blame” on you, which means you could pay more alimony or receive less support. The worst scenario tends to occur when a spouse unsuccessfully attempts to hide a dating relationship from their former partner, which is likely to create significant problems during your divorce. Even worse, email, text messages, phone calls, and all communication activities may easily be tracked and brought to the forefront, making your case look even worse in the eyes of the court.
- Dating may lead to a longer divorce and higher costs. Imagine your new partner called on the stand to testify about when you began the relationship, whether it was the cause of the divorce. Imagine your children caught up in a custody battle in which your dating is brought up as a negative. In this scenario, introducing your new date to your kids may be considered an act that is contrary to maintaining a positive atmosphere for your children.
- If you wait, no problem. By waiting, you avoid any extra hassles — including the potentially awkward moment when you have to explain to your dates that you’re “separated.” More importantly, there will be no legal repercussions.
While your friends, family, and even your ex-spouse may understand your reasons for dating, especially as the year of separation draws to an end, the court system isn’t so sympathetic. Avoid risking monetary penalties and custody issues by holding off until the decree is in your hands.