Yet there are risks in dating before one is divorced. However my clients often want to explore new romantic relationships. Each client needs to determine his or her own balance regarding the risks and rewards of dating during marital dissolution litigation. This blog is intending to help litigants understand these risks. A whole subset of risk arises when child custody is an issue. Williams , S. Allison , S. However paramour exposure prior to divorce, especially overnight paramour exposure, can be a factor in custody.
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. Alimony and property division can also be affected when a spouse dates prior to a final order of separate maintenance. Dating often leads to accusations of adultery, and sometimes dating leads to actual adultery. Post-separation adultery can be a major factor in alimony and a small factor in property division.
For the spouse seeking alimony, adultery can act as an absolute bar. The supported spouse can incur significant fees in defending that claim. Even for the supporting spouse, dating can pose a danger on alimony. 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 … 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.
An unreported Court of Appeals opinion, Lake v. However, unlike with alimony, such post-separation adultery is only a factor in equitable distribution if it occurs prior to the court issuing a temporary order in the case. In making apportionment, the court must give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors … 2 marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce as such, if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage; provided, that no evidence of personal conduct which would otherwise be relevant and material for purposes of this subsection shall be considered with regard to this subsection if such conduct shall have taken place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of: Sharpe , S.
Finally—obviously—post-separation adultery remains a ground for divorce. However once a final order of separate maintenance has issued this should probably not be a concern for a client who wishes to date so long as that client does not expose his or her children to those he or she dates.
For a client who wishes to date after separating but before divorcing the key is to reduce the risk that the dating does not lead to a credible adultery claim or a claim that this dating was the cause of the breakup of the marriage.
Ideally such dating should be confined to public places and there should be no public displays of affection beyond friendly hugs. 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.