Do I Have to Be Divorced to Legally Date?

By Beverly Bird

If you begin dating before your divorce is final, you are technically committing adultery. You’re still married, and married people can’t enter into intimate relationships with anyone other than their spouses. It may not matter if your relationship with a new partner is not sexual. The implication that it could be might affect your divorce proceedings. In some states, committing adultery is a crime.

Effect on Divorce Grounds

If you or your spouse has already filed a divorce complaint and your divorce is pending, you may think it’s okay to begin pursuing new relationships. However, if your spouse learns about it, she can amend her complaint for divorce from whatever grounds on which she filed to an allegation of adultery. This is marital misconduct. In some states, it can influence a judge’s ruling on property division or spousal support. If neither of you has filed for divorce yet, you’re even more vulnerable. Your spouse can potentially make a case that you began a new relationship before you decided to divorce, while you were still happily married. If your spouse names the person you’re dating in her initial or amended complaint, it legally involves that individual in your divorce lawsuit. He or she becomes a co-respondent.

Custody Issues

Dating before your divorce is final and before a court decides custody issues can also affect your relationship with your children. This is especially true if they know what’s going on because you’ve introduced them to a new friend. If your spouse brings your activities to the attention of a judge, it may work against you in a dispute. You may end up seeing your children less post-divorce because of your actions, if your spouse receives primary custody. If you’re involved in a custody evaluation, the evaluator will look into your new friend’s character, if that person spends any time with your children. If your children are uncomfortable with what’s going on, they might not even want to spend time with you at first, and it’s not likely that a judge would force them. By the time the dust of your divorce has settled, you may need to seek professional help to repair the damage caused by their hard feelings.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Other Potential Lawsuits

Some states allow lawsuits for tort claims known as alienation of affection or criminal conversation. These lawsuits are brought against individuals who become romantically involved with a married person, alleging that the involvement caused the breakup of the marriage. If you don’t begin dating until after you or your spouse has filed for divorce, these lawsuits are generally not successfully. However, if you haven’t officially begun your divorce proceedings, anyone you get involved with might be vulnerable to one of these claims. When successful, they result in monetary damages paid to the injured spouse.

Precautions

Speak with your attorney if you’ve met someone and want to begin dating before your divorce is final. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you might not be too vulnerable to repercussions, but only your attorney would know that. If you decide to go ahead and begin dating someone, be circumspect and don’t introduce that person to your children until after you’re divorced. Even then, you might want to give your kids time to adjust to the reality of your divorce first.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Texas Laws About Having a Relationship Before a Divorce Is Final
 

References

Related articles

New York State Divorce Laws When a Spouse Has an Affair

Until 1967, adultery was the only grounds for divorce recognized by New York. The state’s code defines it as sexual intercourse between an individual and someone other than her spouse after their date of marriage, so an affair qualifies if the relationship was sexually consummated. However, the rest of New York’s laws pertaining to this divorce ground are not quite as simple.

The Disadvantages of Pleading No Contest to Adultery

In the context of divorce law, you can "plead no contest" by abstaining from defending yourself against the allegations contained in your spouse’s complaint or petition for divorce. You might do this at trial or in depositions by invoking your Fifth Amendment right against incriminating yourself, depending on your state’s laws. Generally, adultery would have to be a criminal offense in your jurisdiction for your Fifth Amendment right to apply. Alternatively, you might simply decide not to deny your spouse’s adultery grounds when you file an answer to her complaint. In either case, your decision not to challenge her grounds can have a negative effect on your divorce.

Adultery & Divorce in Georgia

If your spouse engages in an extramarital affair and you want to sue her for divorce because of it, you might be more successful if you don’t live in Georgia. The state’s laws regarding adultery are somewhat restrictive, and proving your spouse’s indiscretion might be difficult as well. If you’re successful, however, it can have a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can You Be Charged With Adultery After You File for Divorce?

If you or your spouse has filed for divorce and you're just counting down the days until the whole ordeal is behind ...

What Happens if I Ignore Divorce Summons Papers in New York?

The ostrich-like tactic of burying your head in the sand never works in a divorce situation. Depending on the extent of ...

Cohabitation & Visitation Rights

By definition, cohabitation implies a serious relationship. You're living with someone, or you intend to. You share the ...

Alienation of Affection Divorce Laws

Alienation-of-affection laws reflect the outdated concept that if a spouse strays, a third party must have lured her ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED