5 Reasons You May Not Want to Date Before You’re Divorced

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Are you separated and thinking about dating again? You may want to think twice before you start.

Now that your divorce is underway, you may feel ready to put yourself out there and begin dating again. Much of the dating literature prescribes not dating those who are currently separated, citing reasons such as their potential lack of readiness and unwillingness to commit before they spend ample time playing the field. Though each of these reasons, among others, may be valid, they speak to the other person’s best interests, not your own. And since ultimately you are responsible for and can only control your behavior, it is also wise to consider the impact that dating while separated can have on your divorce. Here are five issues to think about and the implications they can have on your divorce proceeding.

1. Pissing off your spouse. Yeah, you may not care what your spouse thinks but you should. Not everyone takes so kindly to watching his or her soon-to-be-ex move on, particularly if that person was not the one responsible for initiating the split. I have seen even the most amicable divorces turn ugly once a third party enters the mix. Tensions are already running high even when the decision to divorce is mutual. And where emotions are involved, rationality often takes a back seat. In my experience, an angry or jealous spouse is one that tends to be vindictive both in and out of the courtroom and not someone you want as your adversary. Depending on your situation, it may not be a bad idea to keep your love life under wraps or on hold for a while.

2. Dissipation. Not only may your spouse not take kindly to you wining and dining your dates or a new love interest, he or she may also not take kindly to paying for it either. Depending on the divorce laws in your state, the dissipation (reduction) of assets may have an effect on how the court distributes your marital property. Courts will consider the circumstances surrounding how assets are used, for what purpose, and whether that use can be deemed “wasteful.” It may then hold the conduct against the party that is responsible for the reduction. Expenditures made on extramarital affairs, frivolous shopping, excessive gambling, and the sale of property and assets for significantly less than fair market value are each a factor the court will examine when making equitable distribution awards.

3. Spousal support. Some states have laws in place prohibiting cohabitation with someone other than your spouse while receiving support from them even before your divorce is final. Cohabitation need not be full time for it to reduce the amount of your award. Be sure to check your state’s guidelines as to how many overnights you are allowed each month before you will be considered cohabitating, and how much of a reduction you may face.

4. Kids. If you decide to date, will your children be aware? Will they be introduced to the person you are dating, spend significant amounts of time with him or her, or be alone in his or her presence? Will your child see you and the person you are dating sleeping together in the same bed? These are each a question your spouse and potentially a court may ask to ensure the protection of the children’s best interests. And depending on your answers may have an effect on your custody or visitation arrangements. A court will not put your interests before your children’s no matter how significant the person you are dating is in your life and will evaluate each situation individually, taking into account the age of the children and their emotional state.

5. Rose-colored glasses. After being in a bad marriage, it can feel euphoric to suddenly be on the receiving end of affection from a new love interest. If you do become involved in a more “serious” relationship during this time, be sure you don’t let that relationship cloud your judgment, using it as the reason why you need or want to rush through your divorce proceeding. Dissolving a marriage is complicated, and you must decide a lot before signing on the dotted line. There are no guarantees when seeking a post-judgment award, and the process can be time-consuming and aggravating, not to mention expensive. You have a lot at stake. So act like it.

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