Is it okay to date while in the midst of a divorce?

After months or perhaps even years enduring arguments and discontent, you’re dating again. You have found someone who makes you feel happy and excited to be around. Thanks to this new person, you think about your ex less, you’re less stressed and you’re optimistic about the future. But if your divorce has not been finalized, you might be apprehensive about moving forward with this person because you’ve heard that you shouldn’t date while going through the divorce process.

The truth is that you can date while finalizing a divorce – depending on your individual circumstances. Your emotional health, the length of time you’ve been separated, and reasons for pursuing a divorce are just some of the things that can determine whether you’re ready or whether you should wait to date.

Here are some factors to consider before dating while in the midst of a divorce:

Kids

If you are a parent who chooses to date before your divorce is finalized, it is important that you don’t position your new romantic partner as your children’s new mom or dad.

Divorce can be very difficult for kids to process, and they will need time to adjust to their new reality. Bringing a new partner into their lives too soon could hurt them emotionally. After all, they aren’t looking for a new mom or dad, and it’s possible that you will only date that person for a short period of time.

From a legal perspective, if a judge is making decisions about custody, the ruling will be based on what’s best for the children. If your new partner is too heavily involved in their everyday lives, he or she may be scrutinized, and if the judge finds that this person could jeopardize the children’s safe and stable living environment, custody could ultimately be limited or reduced for you.

Reason for ending the marriage

If you and your spouse are separated because of adultery, it may be wise to avoid committing to another relationship before you are legally divorced. In Ontario, the federal Divorce Act sites adultery as grounds for divorce. If you continue to date the person that you were seeing while you were still married to your ex, or if you start dating someone who your ex suspects you may have been romantically involved with, evidence can be gathered against you, which may weaken your case. You could also end up with fewer assets or less spousal support if you are entitled to it if any marital property has been transferred to, or any money was spent on the new partner. You also risk involving your new partner in your court proceedings, which is not an enjoyable experience for anyone.

Your emotional availability

Feeling lonely during divorce is completely normal and understandable, and dating can help boost your self-esteem and diminish those feelings of isolation. However, it’s important that you feel emotionally ready to start seeing someone new. If you’ve been separated from your ex for a long time, have a clear understanding of why the relationship failed and have the energy to make yourself emotionally available, then go and enjoy meeting new people. However, if you’ve only split a few months ago, you may want to wait a little longer.

Other things to consider

You should consider keeping photos of you and your new partner offline. This could hurt and anger you ex, which may motivate him or her resist or complicate settlement negotiations and agreements.

If you’ve maintained an amicable relationship with your ex, be honest with him or her. Communicating will eliminate unwanted surprises later on.

If you have questions or concerns about your obligations during divorce, contact one of our lawyers. We will meet with you free of charge to develop a preliminary plan of action.

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