Should I Date During my Divorce?
A dissolution of marriage is a difficult and emotionally-charged process. There are a lot of issues that must be resolved, and there is great uncertainty about the future. Some divorcing spouses mourn the loss of their marriage and they are in no hurry to start dating again. Others are anxious to get back out there, especially if the marriage has been essentially “over” for a while and they have already detached emotionally from their soon-to-be ex-spouse.
In Florida, there is nothing that legally prohibits spouses from dating during the divorce process. So, to the question “can I date during my divorce?”, the answer is “yes”. As for the question of “should I date during my divorce?”, the answer is far more complicated. Dating may impact the dissolution of marriage process in a number of ways, and there are some emotional and legal factors that you should consider before deciding to take this step.
Are you Ready to Date?
One of the first issues to consider is whether or not you are ready from a purely emotional standpoint to start dating again. Some spouses, especially those who may have been blindsided by the divorce, want to date someone new just to put the current breakup behind them and project the notion that they are “moving on” with their lives. This may seem like a good approach, but the reality is it could leave you in a vulnerable position and expose you to further heartache in the future. So, before you go back on the dating scene, take an honest look at your current emotional condition to decide if this will be good for you.
Dating Could Lead to a Messier Divorce
Whether you are ready to date or not, another issue you need to consider is the impact your dating relationship will have on the mindset of your spouse and children during the divorce process. Even though the marriage is ending, your spouse may not be “over it” and ready to move on like you are. Dating someone else may create animosity between the two of you, causing the divorce to drag on and become costlier for both parties. And if you have children, you should also think about how they will react to you finding a new love interest so quickly.
Dating Could Adversely Impact the Parenting Plan
Speaking of children, your child custody arrangement (referred to in Florida as the parenting plan) could be impacted by a new dating relationship. Your spouse may argue that you are more focused on your dating life than the kids, and that you are exposing the kids to inappropriate situations. This could cause the court to award your spouse more time with the children. And even if the relationship does not ultimately impact the court’s decision, arguments by your spouse and their legal counsel could prolong the proceeding and make it costlier both emotionally and financially.
Dating Could Adversely Impact Financial Aspects of the Divorce
If you are dating someone during your divorce, it could affect the financial awards you receive from the marriage dissolution. For example, if you use any marital assets for dating purposes, a judge may deduct whatever you spent from the marital property you were to receive. And if you are cohabitating with your dating partner, this could affect any child support or spousal support awards.
Dating in Secret is Not a Good Idea
Some divorcing spouses believe they can solve the aforementioned issues by dating secretly. It may be true that if you are able to keep your new relationship a secret until your divorce is finalized, the process might go smoother. But don’t count on that happening. In today’s digital age, it is easier than ever to uncover this type of information. Cameras are everywhere, social media is prevalent, and word generally travels fast, especially gossip about someone starting a new relationship before the ink is dry on the divorce papers.
Even if you do manage to keep your dating a secret until you finalize the dissolution of marriage, what then? Your ex is likely to find out about it eventually. And if it turns out that you were dating during the divorce and did not tell anyone, this could be used by your ex as a basis to return to court and petition for a modification of the parenting plan and/or a modification of other terms and conditions of the divorce.
Proceed with Caution
There is no clear answerto the question, “Should I date during my divorce?” Whether or not it is a goodidea to start a new relationship depends on your specific circumstances. Thatsaid, dating while a dissolution of marriage is still ongoing is not a step youshould take without some serious thought and consideration. In most cases, itis usually best not to. But if you decide to get back into the dating scene, doso with extreme caution.
Contact the Skilled Divorce Attorneys at Spencer Law
If you have any questions regarding dating during your divorce or any issues surrounding your impending divorce, contact the skilled Florida divorce attorneys at Spencer Law and we can help you work through the difficult decisions you are facing. Call our office (850) 912-8080 or through our website contact form.