It can be very tempting to think about dating during your divorce, especially if you’re stressed out and feel unloved and unappreciated. Because online dating apps and services have proliferated in the past decade, you may even find someone you’re compatible with almost immediately.
As tempting as it can be to find someone to pick up where your soon-to-be-ex-spouse left off, it’s worth putting off for the meantime. Dating during your divorce can negatively impact your ability to get exactly what you need out of divorce, whether it’s an equal share of community property, spousal support, or even child custody.
Your Share of Community Property Can Be Affected
Although California is a Community Property state where two parties in a divorce can expect to walk away with a 50/50 share of marital assets, a new boo is a wildcard that could impact how these assets are actually split.
You will still get a 50/50 cut of your marriage’s community property, it’s just that the court could be convinced to take into account expensive vacations, restaurants, jewelry, electronics, and other gifts you’ve given your new boyfriend or girlfriend. If there’s evidence that you used community property to spend on someone else, then their value can be debited from your original share.
New Relationships Can Affect Spousal Support Orders
The purpose of spousal support is to limit the economic impact of divorce on an ex-spouse who earned a smaller paycheck, or perhaps none at all, because he or she contributed in other ways to the marriage. These other ways can include supporting the higher-earning spouse while he or she was in school earning a professional degree, or raising children.
If you sacrificed your career for your spouse, you know what you did and why you did it. If you start dating and eventually move in with someone before your divorce is final, though, this can negatively affect the spousal support you get. It can be interpreted that someone else is helping you with your basic needs, so you don’t need all of the potential spousal support you could otherwise receive.
Becoming engaged before your divorce is finalized may even have a worse impact, resulting in a severe limitation on your spousal support order or preventing you from getting one at all.
Child Custody & Visitation May Be at Risk
If children are involved in your divorce, custody and visitation – which are often already hotly contested issues – can reach a boiling point if someone else’s significant other is in the picture. If you value time with your kids, then it’s certainly worth waiting a few weeks or months for your divorce to finalize.
Courts grant custody and visitation solely based on the best interests of the child. This means you and your ex will both be evaluated with regard for your fitness as parents, and who you choose to date can be factored into that equation.
If you’re dating someone with a criminal background or a history of substance abuse, that can be taken into account. It can be especially detrimental to your chance for the best possible custody order if the person you’re seeing has a history of domestic abuse or sex crimes involving children.
These considerations are at the extreme end of how dating during divorce can affect how much time you get with your kids, but there are ways that even someone without that baggage can drag you down. If your dating activities affect how much time or emotional and physical energy you have to devote to your kids, then the court may take these factors into account as well.
While plenty of people have found it possible to date during divorce without a problem, it doesn’t mean there aren’t considerable risks in doing so.
If your divorce is ongoing, the best possible scenario to date is if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse are on relatively good terms and there won’t be hurt feelings or jealousy in the mix. If that’s not the case, then you run the risk of your ex leveraging your new relationship against you and unfairly affecting your outcome in the divorce.
Are you dealing with divorce or a legal dispute involving one? Consider reaching out to Claery & Hammond, LLP for legal representation. We can advise you on matters such as dating during divorce and other unique aspects of this process while rendering services that can help you get what you need when the dust settles.