So, you’re broken up. One of you probably moved out, or you’re rarely in the same space if you’re still living together. The divorce proceedings are underway. You’re essentially already over, and living separate lives. So, you can start dating, right?
Technically, yes, you can date other people. But there are a few scenarios to be aware of before you get romantic with someone other than your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. Let’s look at each one so you can determine if it might be best to wait until the divorce is final.
Your ex could use it against you
If you live in a no-fault divorce state, cheating isn’t going to harm your side (or give you significant leverage if your ex is the one in a new relationship). But in other states, it can carry a lot more weight in court. How so?
First, if the partner having an extramarital relationship is spending money on the relationship, you might make the case that community, or joint earnings, had gone to benefit the boyfriend/girlfriend. Long story short, the spouse can ask that they get that money back.
The second way you might suffer in court if you’re in another relationship is if it leads the judge to question your credibility. This usually comes into question if you tried to hide the relationship or lied about it. Or, this extramarital relationship could be seen as a negative influence on your children or career. This might influence decisions on finances and parental rights.
Bottom line, though, having a relationship outside of your marriage doesn’t carry much weight in 90% of divorces. Do consider, though, if there are other ways your ex might use your new relationship against you (such as in your co-parenting arrangement, or emotionally). Proceed with caution here, and avoid sharing more than you need to.
You might decide to get back together
Is there any chance you might reconcile? Or is dating so soon going to have long-lasting negative effects on your relationship with your spouse? You need to decide if dating before your divorce is finalized is worth the harm it may cause between you and your ex. Even if you despise them now, if you will keep them in your life in any capacity (such as co-parenting), you need to consider their feelings.
Your kids might not be OK with it
While some children might feel indifferent or even positively toward you dating, most will at best be confused to see you with someone other than your co-parent, and at worst some children will be devastated. If you really want to date someone before your divorce is finalized, it’s best to be honest with your child(ren) about it so you know how they feel about it.
Others may perceive it as cheating
Is public perception a concern? Besides idle gossip, how you conduct your personal life can have an impact on your career. If your personal reputation is something that can be leveraged against you, you need to seriously consider how dating might come across before you go public with a new relationship (or risk it coming out).
The single most important deciding factor here is your own gut feeling. If dating right now feels good and it’s making you happy, trust that. Just like there are a lot of outside opinions and decisions happening regarding your divorce that you can’t control, when and why you date someone new is your call. You will never be able to please everyone. If dating seems to work well for you, simply try to proceed with kindness, humility and respect to try and minimize possible hurt feelings. You deserve a happy, healthy relationship — sometimes the timing isn’t ideal. Trust yourself.
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