I cannot tell you how many times my clients ask me this question during their divorce proceedings. I must warn you, however, that, in spite of my sage, old advice, most people’s desire to move on from their marriages is so great that they don’t hear me sounding all of the necessary warning alarms about getting into a new relationship. That said, I will say it anyway: if you are dating during your divorce, you need to proceed with EXTREME CAUTION. Better yet, just don’t do it.
The most frequently asked question is whether a party to a divorce matter can be deemed to be an adulterer if they date during marriage. The answer, technically, is yes. However, courts in New York and New Jersey will likely not give a second thought to the fact that a spouse is dating during his or her divorce -- unless, of course, that relationship somehow impacts the children of the marriage However, even on that issue, each judge approaches the question of whether your children should be exposed to your or your spouse’s new romantic partner differently. This is why it is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with the proclivities of the judges in your area.
Why do I recommend that you not date during your divorce? Well, I can boil my advice down to three distinct reasons:
1. Your life is about to become uber-complicated. Even when your divorce is amicable, the emotional stress of divorcing your spouse will complicate your life in ways which you cannot predict. Your thought process and your emotional availability to properly engage in and maintain a healthy relationship and to properly advance your legal position can be compromised when dating during a divorce.
2. Your spouse may not have moved on emotionally. How does this impact you? Well, when a spouse becomes jealous of your new relationship, or angry that you have moved on before he or she has, they may lash out by pushing unreasonable negotiation positions in the divorce process. This results in an unnecessarily long divorce process and can even result in your case going to trial when matters could have been settled without such extreme court intervention.
3. You lose focus. When you have a new love interest to focus upon, it is harder to slow down and focus upon the divorce process. Instead, you may be lured into having the “I just want this to be over” state of mind. This state of mind often makes us unable to appreciate the fact that each step of divorce takes a degree of time and requires your attention. As our parents once told us, haste makes waste. The same is true when it comes to divorce -- you want to allow your attorney and yourself the time necessary to dot every “i” and cross every “t.” Remember, you will be living with your divorce agreement and its terms for the rest of your life.