Play It Safe, Wait To Date
by Mat Camp, Online Editor, MensDivorce.com
Though your divorce may have been a long time coming and you feel ready to start seeing new people (or perhaps you already have someone else lined up), it is generally best to wait until the final decree is signed before beginning a new romance.
Although no-fault divorce states don’t have any hard and fast rules that say you can’t date until a certain point in time, the court may look negatively upon jumping into a new relationship before the dissolution is finalized since you are, after all, technically still married.
This is where knowing your judge becomes extremely important: One judge may believe that a relationship during the proceedings will send the wrong message to any children who are already coping with a highly emotional environment, whereas another judge may not care at all. However, it is usually best to avoid any potential scrutiny from the court.
It is also imperative to realize that, particularly if children are involved, any new relationship will likely come under close examination. This can come back to impact custody proceedings, because if the person you decide to date has a past history of poor choices or morals, your spouse can make the argument that it is not a proper environment for your children.
Courts can also place an order to prevent contact with a new person; however, this is less likely to be granted if both parties have been separated for a while and the children have already been exposed to either side seeing other people.
Additionally, having a new significant other before the divorce is final can also play into other areas of the divorce, such as assets and debts. If there is documented spending that can be traced to the new paramour, such as a vacation which used funds from a joint account, do not expect your spouse to pay for an equal share of the credit card debt or for to receive a 50/50 split of the funds.
However, if you do decide it’s worth the risk to jump into a new relationship, there are a couple things to keep in mind:
Disclose the relationship to your attorney.
This goes without saying, but you need to feel like you can trust your representation with everything. Even if you feel like the relationship will remain hidden, your lawyer would rather have all pertinent information up front (including the potentially bad stuff) instead of being blindsided when the revelation comes up later.
If the other side brings up your relationship during litigation, do not attempt to lie your way out of it.
With how easy it is to stalk social media, the fact that friends and people will talk, the financial and phone records available to discovery and the limited date locations you can go without leaving a trace, the chances are a relationship will not remain secret. It is better to be honest than to lose credibility with the judge when you are caught lying to the court and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Trust is difficult to regain in the eyes of the court.
Know the new girlfriend’s background.
It is important to realize that the courts will factor the character of the person you decide to date into determining your ability to make proper judgements. If you are dating a convicted felon or someone with past drug abuse problems, it will not reflect well on you; no matter if those issues are all in the past.
Don’t rub the new date in your spouse’s face.
The temptation may exist, but avoiding any additional hostility and resentment is important. You and your spouse still have plenty of important issues to work out, and it is best to do so as amicably as possible to avoid excessive spending on litigation fees. The faster you can work out problem areas, the faster you can move on.
Disclaimer: The original posting of this article can be found at, www.mensdivorce.com/play-safe-wait-date/