My preference as the attorney is that my clients don’t date until they are divorced (or at least until they have a final order of separate maintenance): a client who doesn’t date is not going to create any dating-related complications in his or her case.
However my clients often want to explore new romantic relationships. However paramour exposure prior to divorce, especially overnight paramour exposure, can be a factor in custody.
There is an actual reported case in which a spouse’s post-separation adultery was considered as a factor in equitable distribution. One still needs to prove opportunity to commit adultery and an inclination to commit adultery to prove adultery.
Limiting the contact to public places and limiting the displays of affection reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of adultery being alleged.
Judges and court experts are prejudiced against those who date during a divorce, especially when minor children are involved.
Date only on non-custodial weekends and don’t let them know about your new love interest.
Each client needs to determine his or her own balance regarding the risks and rewards of dating during marital dissolution litigation. If a parent is going to date prior to a divorce that parent needs to be warned not to expose the child to those he or she dates.
When dating, don’t move in with your new love interest unless you want that to affect your spousal and child support payments or property settlement, advises Gage.
For the spouse seeking alimony, adultery can act as an absolute bar. The supported spouse can incur significant fees in defending that claim. Code § 20-3-130(C)(10) reads: In making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate …
Even for the supporting spouse, dating can pose a danger on alimony. (10) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except that no evidence of personal conduct which may otherwise be relevant and material for the purpose of this subsection may be considered with regard to this subsection if the conduct took place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or (b) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties. However the opinion does not discuss how it affected the family court’s award.
Dating during divorce is not uncommon, but might not be in your best interests, according to Kevin C.
Gage, an attorney in his article, “Dating During Divorce.” Dating when you have minor children can harm your legal case and cost you more that you can imagine.