One of the most common questions our attorneys are asked regards dating: namely, when can you start dating again? Some attorneys may suggest that you wait until your divorce is finalized, while others may encourage dating during a divorce so long as there is no introduction to children and the spouses are living separate and apart.
If you choose to date during your divorce, put yourself back out there, and not let the divorce process define you, be smart about how you approach dating. Dating during a divorce can create unintended obstacles which can affect the outcome of your divorce – remember divorce is emotional and you do not want to add to an already high conflict situation. A casual Instagram post with your new boyfriend or girlfriend can be just the thing that squashes settlement and leads to litigation – divorce may be a legal process, but it is ultimately governed by the emotions of its litigants.
Do not date while you still live with your spouse
Aside from the optics, it is better for your case if you are already physically separated and living apart when you start dating. It is not that you are breaking any laws, but an angry (or hurt) spouse can become an unnecessarily litigious one.
Think careful about expenses
The division of marital property can become a bone of contention if you have started dating, especially if you are the type to lavish gifts upon your new love interest and are using marital money to do so. If you spend significant sums of money on your new partner from marital property before that marital property has been divided, you could be inviting an argument by your soon to be former spouse of wasteful dissipation of marital assets, which can have serious consequences. Not only could your soon-to-be-ex be entitled to recoup half of what you have spent, but you may also be in violation of a court order.
Consider how much information you really want to share
Divorce lawyers often say that open and honest communication is the key to a good relationship, whether it is with your attorney or your spouse. It may be difficult, but if you can have a frank conversation with your spouse about your desire to date, you should. You also need to be prepared to hear and absorb what your spouse has to say about their plans to start dating, too.
Perhaps more important, however, is the never-easy discussion you may need to have with your children once you decide to date after a divorce is finalized. That does not mean you have to introduce your kids to your new partner right away; in fact, it is probably better if you do not unless the relationship becomes very serious. What you want to avoid is blindsiding them, or accidentally putting them in an uncomfortable position between their parents, especially if they are still struggling with the divorce. Additionally, a divorcing spouse who is too casual when it comes to bringing a new lover into the lives of the children could see this used against them in a custody battle. Kids who have just seen their parents split up should not see Mom or Dad with a new overnight guest for a while.
Finally, think very carefully about how you choose to let the world know you have found love once again. It is best to avoid posting pictures of you and your new partner on your social media accounts until after the divorce is final.
Things to think about once your divorce is final
Navigating the world of dating is always challenging. Depending on how long you have been married, dating may look a little different these days.
Emotionally, dating after divorce can be a little trying – for you, for your kids, and for your ex. Here are some suggestions to help make it all a little easier:
- Do your research before downloading dating apps or using online dating services, so that you are choosing platforms that work best for the life you have, not the life you used to have.
- Only plan dates on days or nights when you do not have the children with you.
- Avoid places that you know your ex likes to go, such as certain restaurants.
- Make sure your date knows you are divorced, especially if you have children.
- There are professionals (i.e. dating coaches or therapists) who specialize in helping people transition to post-divorce life.
Dating during or after your divorce comes with some challenges. If you know what those challenges are, you can prepare better to meet them when they arise.
Considering a divorce? Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can help you through the process. To reserve a consultation with one of our knowledgeable NYC divorce attorneys, call F:P:Sub:Phone} or reach out to us through our contact form today. We serve clients throughout Manhattan, Westchester, and Bergen County, NJ.