To some, the idea of a new relationship may be terrifying. To others, it may sound refreshing and exciting. After all, the thought of a new partner and an entirely new relationship is a chance for a clean slate. While some going through a divorce have no interest in dating until after the divorce is final, some begin dating right away. Of course, some marriages end due to infidelity, so some people going through a divorce are already in a relationship before their marriage is dissolved.
Whether you recently separated and have caught the dating bug and long for a new relationship or if you’re currently in a relationship pending a divorce case, you may be wondering if it’s okay to date while you’re still legally married. Continue reading to learn if you can be involved in another relationship during a pending divorce case.
Can I Date While My Divorce is Pending?
Many clients wonder if they can enter into a new relationship while their divorce case is pending. While there is no law stating that you can’t enter into a new relationship while your divorce is ongoing, most divorce attorneys will prefer their clients either wait until their divorce is final or be discreet about a new relationship while the divorce is ongoing, especially when children are involved.
Why do divorce attorneys prefer their clients keep new relationships quieter during a pending divorce? While you are legally married, you may feel emotionally ready to date again, but doing so can impact your divorce case.
How can Dating Impact my Divorce?
For one, dating or entering into new relationships before the marriage is legally dissolved can impact those involved emotionally. It can be shocking to discover that your spouse has started dating someone new before your marriage was finalized. The other spouse may feel hurt or easily replaced and those emotions may impact that party’s decision-making. Not only does dating often emotionally affect the other spouse, but children can also be impacted by a new person entering their lives. They too can feel hurt or easily replaced so be cautious when it comes to entering new relationships during the divorce process. Children may need some time to understand the divorce itself and adding in a new relationship can overcomplicate things.
Dating while you have an ongoing divorce case can have an impact on the judge’s rulings when it comes to child custody. If you are dating someone who either the other spouse or children aren’t fond of, it may have an impact on how custody and parenting time are determined. The best interests of the child or children is the main deciding factor when it comes to determining custody arrangements. If your child or children feel uncomfortable around your new partner or if your new partner has a criminal past, the judge will take those issues into consideration.
It is also important to consider the financial impact of dating while your divorce is pending. Spending money on a new significant other when it could otherwise be going towards the marital estate may not look the best, especially when it comes to child support and maintenance cases. It is best to speak with your attorney about this, especially prior to having any significant expenditures.
Can Infidelity Affect My Divorce?
If infidelity was involved in the marriage, it may have affected the other spouse and children that were involved. Emotions run high during the average divorce process so adding in a new relationship too soon can hurt or harm the other spouse and children. Whether you and your spouse were in a loving marriage or if you struggled, unfaithfulness can be a shocking thing to discover regardless of who strayed from the marriage or how long you have been together. Most children are unaware that a parent has committed adultery, however, some older children are aware of their parents’ infidelity.
Unfortunately, misconduct/having an affair is the cause of many divorces across the United States. While Missouri is considered a “modified no fault state,” legally, having an affair during a marriage can directly affect how the judge divides assets under certain circumstances. The act of infidelity in and of itself may not be sufficient, however, as you will need to show how the infidelity impacted the marriage. Even then, the misconduct is often limited to the amount that the marital estate was impacted.
While the decision to date during a pending divorce case rests in your hands, there can be consequences. Dating before a divorce is final can negatively impact those you love and the court may consider your relationship when it comes to child custody, maintenance/alimony, and dividing assets.
If you’re looking for a family law attorney in Lee’s Summit or a child custody attorney in Kansas City, contact The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri as well as Johnson County, Kansas.