A person may wonder if they can date while their divorce case is pending, but it is not advised to date before a divorce is finalized. Maryland is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither party needs to offer specific reasons or grounds for divorce. In Maryland, a married couple must have been involuntarily separated for at least two years or voluntarily separated for at least 12 months. However, even in a no-fault state, dating during divorce proceedings can have negative consequences, no matter the circumstances of the divorce.
Legal Implications of Dating During a Divorce
Spouses who date during divorce proceedings open themselves up to financial scrutiny. Since most assets in a divorce are split equally, a judge may look at spending on a romantic partner as a divisible asset. This could affect future alimony or child support amounts as well. For example, if a spouse is using marital funds on a romantic partner, such as dinners, gifts, or trips, they are dissipating marital funds. If the other spouse decides to allege dissipation, discovery may include bank and credit card statements being brought into the open. Some spouses have even hired private investigators to prove dissipation.
In addition to financial consequences, dating during a divorce could affect custody or visitation rights. Should a case go before a judge, a relationship could work against the party who is dating if the judge does not feel that dating or cohabitation is good for the children. There could even be a prohibitive order that does not allow the children to be around the third party, resulting in a potential reduction in visitation rights.
Even though Maryland is a no-fault divorce state, a recent affair or dating while a divorce is active can potentially have a bearing on property division and alimony or support amounts. However, a lawyer will work to ensure that their client gets the information that they need about the legal implications of dating during a divorce to minimize any risks.
Emotional Implications of Dating During a Divorce
Dating can add more stress and emotions to divorce proceedings. Even if both parties want to divorce, emotions often run high during pending divorce cases. Dating during divorce can add potential stress. Involving another person to the divorce proceedings can only add time and costs to a case.
Also, consider that if the divorce is a result of adultery, continuing to date that third party could bring that relationship into the open, including intimate details about the relationship. This could include emails, texts, phone records, and other details being brought out as proof of adulterous behavior. A scorned spouse may go to any lengths to prove that the other spouse is immoral, unethical, or unfit as a parent. The emotional toll this could take on all parties, including children and family or friends, is not worth the consequences.
It is always best for a divorcing couple to be civil with each other throughout the divorce proceedings. A lawyer will always try to minimize emotional distractions so that divorces can be handled swiftly and fairly.
Moral Implications of Dating During a Divorce
Even though Maryland is a no-fault divorce state, there could be moral implications to dating while a divorce is pending. For example, a vindictive spouse could use dating while still legally married as an example of the spouse being immoral and potentially unfit as a parent.
If the divorce is contested, the contesting spouse will look for any chance to expose a behavior that could be considered immoral, whether or not children are involved. This could result in the boyfriend or girlfriend being investigated or scrutinized for morality, regarding their lifestyle, habits, employment, and criminal or sexual behavior backgrounds. Any findings could potentially affect custody or visitation decisions. Spouses are legally married until a divorce is finalized. Their behaviors during the divorce proceedings is open to both scrutiny and opinion.
Financial Implications of Dating During a Divorce
There are several financial implications of dating during a divorce, such as the dissipation of funds. Another important issue to discuss is living with a romantic partner during a divorce. When a divorcing person lives with a romantic partner before or during a divorce, their child support or alimony levels may be decreased because they are considered to be sharing living expenses with someone. What if that relationship ends? A source of financial support has already been forfeited.
How can a Lawyer Help?
A knowledgeable lawyer will always try to make a divorce case end as quick as possible. For this reason, a lawyer will advise their client to refrain from dating during a divorce case. It is best to be cautious and cognizant of behaviors that could negatively impact divorce decrees.
Even though a lawyer is not trained as a counselor or social worker, they have experienced enough to know about contentious divorces, especially when children involved. Putting a romantic partner aside during a divorce case can benefit everyone involved.
Towson Family Law Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Clients Understand Their Rights During Divorce
No matter how simple or complex your divorce may seem, one of our Towson family law lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help ensure you are fairly represented. Call us at 443-589-0150 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.