A fairly major change for a person who has made the decision to divorce their spouse is the fact that they can start dating other people. The divorce process can be stressful and trying for those involved and any other changes can further impact your life. It is therefore important to consider both the positive and negative impacts of dating while you are going through a divorce.
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Dating can be a good distraction from stressful divorce proceedings and can offer you some respite during what is understandably an emotional process. It can allow you to get back into dating to test out the waters of the freedom that you will soon regain. It may be that you are not ready for anything serious or alternatively you could be feeling ready to embark on a new committed relationship.
Divorce can be an isolating process, especially if you come to find that your ex-partner has, themselves, re-entered the dating scene. This may conjure feelings of anger and resentment, both toward your situation and your spouse. However, these feelings are not conducive to facilitating an amicable settlement. While there exists no prerogative to date during a divorce - and by all means you may be happier off without it - it is important to understand there is no shame in doing so, and the happiness and distraction it entails may well positively benefit the divorce process.
It won’t affect your financial settlement While dating before you are legally divorced can form an effective pick-me-up, you may still be harbouring the inner worry that this could negatively impact your financial settlement. The good news: the family court is not a court of morals. Even if you commit adultery prior to filing for divorce, this should not impact your settlement, the starting point of which will remain a 50/50 division of marital assets. Indeed, it is very rare for conduct to be taken into account - only conduct which is excessively bad, such that it would be inequitable for the courts to disregard, will be considered.
It might be worth noting, however, that even if you have actually separated from your spouse prior to dating other people, you might still be committing adultery in law. You are not legally divorced until you obtain decree absolute, and therefore any penetrative sex with a person of opposite sex before that point is, legally, adultery. However, this is even less likely to have any impact on your settlement once the grounds for divorce have been established. Judges would very rarely be compelled to punish someone for dating once they have physically and permanently separated.
Dating during a divorce may well risk aggravating your spouse, should they find out. There exists, too, the possibility that they will suspect that you had an affair before the proceedings began. Again, while this does not actually impact your position conduct-wise in the proceedings, worsening your relationship with your soon-to-be ex might have some very tangible consequences for your divorce costs and your emotional wellbeing. Indeed, a hostile spouse may very well instruct their lawyers to make matters more difficult, resulting in laboured and elongated negotiations and hearings that carry with them greater expenses. Less effective communication between the parties virtually always results in increased solicitors’ correspondence, in turn increasing costs. Ideally, you would not like your spouse to be motivated by revenge.
Not only could dating risk exacerbating your divorce proceedings - it could also deteriorate your ability to successfully co-parent with your spouse. Deciding the residency of your children and who is to have contact at what time, and when, could transform into bitter disputes that find no resolution. Not only could this have a detrimental impact on your own wellbeing, but that your children too. Worse still, children are sometimes used as pawns in such disputes - something which can negatively impact the relationships they have with their parents and their development.
If the dating you have in mind is not the casual type, you might also need to take into account any consequences arising from cohabiting with your new partner. When you disclose your financial information in a document called Form E, the court will require you to state whether you are currently cohabiting with a new partner or intend to do so in the near future. While allowed, it is likely that such will entail a reduction of your needs assessment by the court, given that you can share the costs of living with your new partner. Indeed, this might tip the scales of your settlement in favour of your ex receiving more than 50% of the marital pot.
Although it may be a confidence boost, those going through a divorce may be particularly vulnerable and this is not an ideal time to make any major decisions. At any time, there can be a tendency to make decisions because you are in the honeymoon period, that may be not the best choices. Where someone is going through a major life change such as divorce, it would be wise to bear in mind that any new relationship needs to be considered carefully to ensure that it is not just a knee-jerk reaction to what is happening in relation to the divorce. Especially where someone has previously felt under appreciated by their partner, some attention can make a person going through a divorce make decisions that they wouldn’t normally.
If possible, you may wish to discuss with your spouse any opinions on dating before you receive the decree absolute. That way, you can remove the surprise element of an ex-partner suddenly finding out about your newly revived dating life, and any resulting resentment which may ensue. Maintaining a good, or at least amicable, relationship with your ex will be important to your mutual wellbeing, especially if you co-parent children. As such, it is well worth maintaining a certain level of respect and trust with your partner, regardless of your change in romantic feelings towards them.
The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.