It seems that just about every time I’m in court watching the judge sort through the details of a divorce, one of the parties (often the husband) walks out surprised that the judge ruled in favor of the wife because the husband is already dating. Sometimes it’s worse, and the husband has already moved his girlfriend into the marital home.
Before you start sending emails, I have to say that very often it’s the wife who has already started dating before the divorce is final. The girls tend to be worse about flaunting their new partner in front of their spouse.
So what’s the problem? The divorce has been filed. The parties are separated. The kids are spending time with each parent. The divorce is so close you can taste it, why not go ahead get out there, have some fun, and re-enter the dating scene? Perhaps your spouse has even given his permission for you to date.
You’re still married
Remember those pesky vows you took when you got married? The ones where you promised to be bound to this person, to respect and take care of them through sickness, health, richer, poorer, until death or the end of time? Oh yeah…. those. Well, until your divorce is made final by a family court, the judge will expect you to behave like you meant what you promised.
Remember that the judge is constantly evaluating the credibility of each party, the merits of their arguments, and the fitness of each parent to raise the children. Everything you do and say in court, and out of court, will affect how the judge chooses to use his discretion, and much of divorce law allows the judge a lot of room to use his judgment when dividing the assets or setting alimony.
Dating will affect your case
Depending on the facts of your divorce, your credibility may be as thin as a tightrope, and a revelation that you’ve been dating may be enough to knock you off. Once you’ve fallen in the eyes of the judge, it will be very difficult to get back up.
The judge will pay attention to your ability to keep your promises, be honest with your spouse, follow agreements you’ve made with your spouse, and follow orders of the court. Dating while your divorce is pending shows the judge that you fail on all counts.
Dating and the kids
If you have children, the effect your dating has on your case can be huge. There are many factors a judge will look at when deciding which parent should have most of the parenting time, and one of them is the outside influences each parent will bring to the children.
What does violating your marriage vow tell the judge about the morals you are teaching the children? Perhaps more importantly, what kind of person have you brought around your children? You have just opened up a character investigation on the person you’ve been seeing, possibly subjecting him to a subpoena to answer detailed questions about your relationship. She may be required to testify in the divorce trial. Is that going to improve things for you?
Just don’t do it
I know, it’s hard. You’ve probably been stuck in a crummy marriage for a while and you’re anxious to get out there and spend time with somebody new and better. Use this as motivation to come to an agreement so your divorce can be resolved quicker. Then, you’ll have a lot more freedom to see who you want.
If you have more questions about his, feel free to leave comments or contact me for more information.