Divorce signals the end of a relationship. Whatever the reasons, it just didn’t work out, and divorce makes that final and official. For all intents and purposes, your marriage may have been over for a long time and the divorce process often feels like a waiting period. By this point, many people want to get out there and explore new romantic possibilities. But the question arises: does dating during divorce hurt your case?
Once you put the wheels in motion, it may sound like the perfect time to re-enter the social scene. But you want to carefully consider your circumstances. Dating during divorce may have unforeseen and serious consequences when it comes to your case. It doesn’t in every situation, but it’s vital to understand the risks and potential costs.
Like most states in the union, Oregon practices no-fault divorce. Dating during divorce, since the marriage is still legally intact, may technically constitute adultery. A lot of this revolves around the date of separation—when spouses no longer live together as a married couple and can freely begin new relationships—but in realistic terms, infidelity doesn’t often have a ton of impact on your divorce in Oregon.
That said, there are still ways dating during divorce often plays a role. Here’s what you need to keep an eye on.
Division of Property
During the division of property in a divorce, the goal is generally for both spouses to emerge on relatively even footing. Beyond that, the idea is for each to maintain a lifestyle equivalent to the one enjoyed during the marriage. For the most part, dating during divorce doesn’t generally factor into this realm. But it can.
Living situation directly impacts lifestyle and need. Even if there’s no cohabitation, expenses accrued during a relationship can play a part. Dates, dinners, nights out, vacations, gifts, and more, all of these costs add up. If that money comes from shared accounts, or one party runs up new debts on joint credit cards, the responsible spouse needs to account for all of that. It may influence the division of property.
Child Custody and Visitation
In child custody cases, the court places the best interests of any minor children above all other concerns. Despite parental preference or convenience, if it’s not the better choice for the kids, it’s not the better choice. Plain and simple. Dating during divorce can affect this in a couple of ways.
One of the key pieces the courts look at when deciding on child custody is safety. If a new significant other, or even a string of unhealthy relationships, jeopardizes this, the court can take it into consideration. Living with a new partner who has a negative influence or even poses a potential threat can negatively impact your custody case. When there’s even a question of that, your ex will more than likely bring it up in a heated custody battle. Even if it looks like you’re more interested in going out and dating that focusing on your children, that can damage your cause.
Kids go through a lot during this time, and it’s often tough to watch parents dating during divorce. They may not be entirely comfortable your choice of romantic partners, or your ex’s for that matter. While the courts don’t usually allow the children’s feelings to sway these decisions, they may listen to what older children have to say. Everyone has a tough time, but kids are especially susceptible.
Child Support and Spousal Support
Dating during divorce is one thing, but cohabitating with a romantic partner is another. And when it comes to child support and spousal support, this move may have a dramatic impact. Living with someone often plays into how much support the courts ultimately award.
When it comes to figuring out child support, if you’re granted custody, the state of Oregon has a formula. It accounts for many factors, including need, income, parenting time, and more. One thing it also considers is living expenses. If you live with someone new and sharing expenses, this may lessen the amount of child support you receive.
In terms of spousal support, dating during divorce also wields a substantial influence. Less formulaic than child support, the court weighs factors like need, future earning potential, health, age, and what is just and equitable given the circumstances, among other elements. Again, splitting expenses by sharing a home with another person may undercut alimony payments.
Dating During Divorce Conflict
Ending a marriage is already an intense and emotional time. Feelings are raw and egos bruised, and in some cases, dating during divorce accentuates these ill feelings. Seeing your ex with a new partner, or vice versa, may intensify conflict; it may feel very personal.
Your ex may push harder or be more resistant than otherwise as a reaction, whether conscious or not. If there are claims of adultery or marital misconduct, the other side may point towards dating during divorce to support those accusations, true or not. In short, it can make an already tense situation that much worse.
Getting back out there after a marriage ends and start living life again is an important step for many people. Just because one relationship didn’t work doesn’t mean all are doomed to the same fate. Especially if you meet the new love of your life. That’s well and good and part of the process.
At the same time, it’s important to consider the impact of dating during divorce. Think about how it influences your case, what your kids think, and how it affects your life moving forward. Don’t make hasty, rash decisions, and don’t rub your ex’s nose in it. At best, that makes you look bad. At worst, you may hand your ex a potential advantage in the divorce process.
If you have questions about divorce, contact Goldberg Jones at our Portland office.