Dating During Divorce: Should You do it?
In New Jersey, dating during divorce and adultery will not have a punitive effect on the division of your assets. But that does not mean that dating someone else does not come without certain risks.
First, if you use marital assets to impress your new boyfriend or girlfriend, this could have a negative impact on the division of the estate on finalization of your divorce. For example, taking out debt to go on a luxury vacation with them will not be viewed kindly by the judge (or your spouse!). Buying new jewelry or expensive gifts with marital assets will affect how the court carries out its division of the estate.
If you have children, then you should proceed with caution when it comes to dating during divorce. Of course, it might be confusing to your children if you begin dating someone when you and your spouse have just split. They will need to understand how and why you have moved on, and whether there are any expectations for them to accept this new person in their lives. They might still be hoping that you and your spouse will reconcile. If you are introducing your new partner to the children, you should include your spouse in this discussion so they are not caught off guard and can be prepared to answer any questions the children might have for them. Consider speaking to a professional who is experienced in talking with children during a divorce and develop a sound approach in discussing a new relationship with your children and spouse.
Under no circumstances should you encourage your new partner to be seen as a replacement parent for your children. Do not encourage them to call him or her ‘mom' or ‘dad' and do not compare the new partner to your spouse. This will probably have a negative impact on any custody case you may have. For example, the court might find that you are attempting to alienate the children from the other parent. They may view any attempts to replace the other parent as an inability to co-parent responsibly.
Your new boyfriend or girlfriend should also be a good and safe person for your children to be around. If they have problems with substance abuse, physical abuse, or a criminal record, then this might impact the time you share with the children on your parenting schedule. If a custody evaluator is appointed, they will likely interview your new partner. Any negative history or factors they have could impact your assessment. Remember – parenting is often a case of using good judgment. If you have selected an inappropriate partner, it will raise questions in the mind of the evaluator and the judge about what kind of decisions you will make for the children. In fact, in some cases, the court might feel compelled to ensure there are appropriate safeguards in place to protect the children from any bad influences that this new person might exert on them.
Do not pursue this new, exciting relationship to the detriment of the relationship you have with your children. Skipping out on time with your children will, of course, be viewed negatively by the judge. Remember, the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration. If the court believes that you cannot set aside your own personal interests for your children, in this case, they may conclude that you are incapable of doing so at other times in the future.
If you think you will be receiving alimony, then moving in with someone else could impact the amount you receive. If you are cohabitating with someone else, your spouse can file for termination of alimony after the divorce. It is far too common for someone to have rashly moved in with a new love interest, have their alimony terminated, and then have the new relationship break down, leaving them without sorely needed financial support. Think carefully about the consequences of cohabitation before moving in together.
There are some basic rules of etiquette you should follow if you decide to date someone else while you're going through a divorce. Do not use your new significant other as a weapon or source of conflict with your spouse. Divorces are difficult enough without someone parading around their new partner. It will only inflame tempers and reduce the ability of the parties to negotiate, especially if the marriage broke down because of this relationship. Try to avoid tempting your spouse into seeking revenge.
It is inappropriate to bring your new partner to any court hearings with you. They may want to offer you support, which is fine – but tell them to take you out for coffee after instead of showing support in the courtroom. If you have children, do not ‘co-parent' with your new partner during the divorce process. This means not allowing them to discipline your kids, and not allowing them to babysit them while you are away. Minimize their influence on the relationship between you and your children until you can be sure that the relationship is long-term and stable, and that your children are mentally and emotionally capable of handling such a change.
Finally, if you are considering dating at this time, consult with your lawyer. Not only will they need to be prepared for this aspect of your case, but they might be able to give you advice on whether or not this is the best choice for your case. They can also counsel you on the best conduct and course of action for your particular circumstances.
If you have any questions about dating during divorce, contact the Law Office of Peter Van Aulen for a free, in office consultation today at 201-845-7400.