Dating couple feeding each other at dinner.

Is There a Problem with Dating Before a Divorce Is Final?

One of the most frequently asked questions among soon-to-be-divorcees involves post-marital dating. After all, divorce can be a challenging time and it's not uncommon for a person to find romantic interest in another individual before the court finalizes their divorce. As you go through the separation and divorce processes you'll likely have a lot of questions about where to go from here.

Is Dating OK?

Dating before a divorce is final may or may not be admissible, depending on your personal situation. If you have children or you live in a no-fault state, you may want to consider this question in a different context than couples without kids or those living in states where the person may lose more if the court faults them for the split.

Legally speaking, "dating "is defined as one-on-one social contact with another individual. Courts do not recognize a distinction between romantic or sexual interactions and platonic relationships. However, romantic or sexual relationships are more likely to draw scrutiny during your case and cause complications. Very rarely will a platonic friendship impact your divorce proceedings in the same way as a romantic or sexual relationship.

Regardless, creating personal interactions with someone you during your divorce proceedings may lead to feelings of spite or rage in your soon-to-be ex-spouse. If your ex-spouse knows you're spending time with someone new, especially someone they believe you may be romantically involved with, it may encourage them to treat your interaction as if it started before the separation.

No-Fault States

If you do not have kids and you live in a no-fault state, dating before your divorce is final is less likely to impact your case proceedings. In some states, like California, neither party is legally blamed for the breakup of their marriage. Therefore, dating someone new before your divorce is final will not lead the court to favor your spouse when they award marital assets in a no-fault state.

Generally speaking, it's a good idea to postpone dating until your divorce is final period however if you are dating someone or you plan to, consider the following do's and don'ts to make sure your divorce proceedings go smoothly:

  • Don't get pregnant or impregnate someone else. Doing so will prolong your case so the court can test the baby's paternity when he or she is born.
  • Don't date until you and your spouse or physically separated. Even if you agree that your marriage is over, cohabiting can put significant hurdles in the way of your dating life and your divorce. If you're still living together and you start dating someone else, a judge may award more of your marital assets to the other spouse if you don't live in a no-fault state.
  • Socialize in groups when you can. If you aren't dating anyone, or you don't want any of your platonic relationships to be misconstrued as romantic or sexual, socialize with more than one person at a time. Doing so will make it less likely for your spouse to argue infidelity in the courts.