When a Tallahassee-area resident seeks out the divorce services of the marital and family law specialist at Cowhey + Ward Attorneys at Law, they tend to have many questions. Florida divorce laws shape the answers to most questions, but the laws do not cover every situation. One question that can prove particularly vexing is: “Can I date other people while getting my divorce?”
That’s because the simple answer is “yes”. There is nothing in the law that makes it illegal or otherwise prevents either spouse from dating other people before finalizing the divorce. That said, if you preface the question with “should” rather than “can,” the answer would be “probably not”. In fact, there are several reasons why those in the midst of a divorce should avoid dating. Let’s take a closer look at the issue.
There are many reasons why someone might want to date before their divorce becomes final. Going through a divorce is usually emotionally fraught and not much fun. Dating is fun and can take one’s mind off ongoing divorce travails. Some spouses experienced unhappiness in the relationship for years before the onset of the divorce. With the divorce proceedings putting an end to such despair, they are just ready to get on with a new life by finding a new love interest.
Lengthy divorce proceedings can also make it hard to delay the quest for a new life and new love interest. Some people just have a powerful natural attraction to the opposite (or same) sex. It can be nearly impossible to for them to hold off pursuing dating once they’ve become separated (let alone before). Last, there is always the chance that a divorcing spouse will get hit by Cupid’s arrow.
From a legal standpoint, the most significant impact dating during a divorce has affects those who are parents. If you have children, your soon-to-be ex-spouse can bring your dating activities to the court’s attention. They’ll can use this to gain the best terms in child timesharing and visitation. If your spouse can successfully convince the court that your dating activity negatively affects the children, it will likely award the spouse more of the time-share. Depending upon what your spouse uncovers about your dating activity, they might argue that it is causing you to neglect your children, exposing them to inappropriate situations, or that the new partner is negatively impacting them.
Dating during a divorce can indirectly impact the proceedings in several different ways. In many cases, dating before finalizing the divorce can stir up anger, resentment, and/or jealousy in the other spouse. This can make the spouse potentially more combative during negotiations. They will be more likely to haggle over every detail of the divorce. The loss of an amicable settlement means that the proceedings will be prolonged. This will cause you more stress and cost you more money.
Your new love interest can also affect your ability to make good decisions during negotiations. Euphoria and a strong desire to move an anticipated new life with your new love forward may cause you to agree to unfair terms that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Whether unfair alimony payments or inequitable asset distribution, that poor decision-making made on behalf of expediting the divorce, may prove costly in the longer term.
If you start dating during your divorce proceedings make sure you inform your divorce lawyer. Divorce is complicated and emotionally fraught. Your lawyer needs to be aware of all situations. Especially ones that could add to the complications of the case or emotional turmoil of either spouse. This holds especially true if you have children or are concerned about your spouse’s reaction. While your lawyer will likely suggest that you refrain from dating, they may be able to help you mitigate any impacts it could have on the divorce.
If your marriage has hit a dead-end or otherwise facing dissolution, the marital and family law specialist at Cowhey + Ward Attorneys at Law can help you protect your rights and navigate the legal complexities of your ensuing divorce. To learn more about how Cowhey + Ward can help strategize the most favorable outcome for your divorce, contact our Tallahassee-based office today at (850) 222-1000.