One question often arises when ending a marriage: Does dating during divorce harm your case?
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, you may want to get out there and explore new romantic possibilities. But along with this desire, there’s also the worry it may negatively impact the outcome of your divorce.
How Does Dating Affect Divorce?
Once you put the wheels in motion, it often sounds like the perfect time to re-enter the social scene. But you want to carefully consider your circumstances.
Dating during a divorce sometimes carries unforeseen and serious consequences when it comes to your case. It doesn’t happen in every situation, but it’s vital to understand the potential risks and costs.
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.
Like most states in the union, Oregon practices no-fault divorce. This means neither party must prove the other is responsible for the breakup. In realistic terms, this means infidelity of any variety doesn’t often have a ton of impact on your divorce.
Related Reading: How to Divorce in Oregon
How Dating During Divorce Can Harm Your Case
That said, there are still ways dating during divorce often plays a role. As usual, it varies from case to case and can have an effect in certain circumstances. Still, 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 a 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. This may influence the division of property down the road.
Related Reading: The Division of Property in Oregon
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 in their eyes. Plain and simple.
Dating during divorce can affect child custody or visitation in a couple of ways. Again, can is the key word here.
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 takes it into consideration.
Living with a new partner who has a negative influence or even poses a potential threat negatively impacts 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 only looks like you’re more interested in going out and dating than 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 a divorce. They may not be entirely comfortable with 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.
Related Reading: Parental Evaluations In Oregon
Child Support and Spousal Support Payments
Dating during divorce is one thing, but cohabitating with a romantic partner is another. When it comes to determining 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 share expenses, this may lessen the amount of child support you receive.
In terms of spousal support, dating during divorce also wields substantial influence. Less formulaic than child support, the court weighs, among other elements, factors like:
- Future earning potential.
- What is just and equitable given the circumstances.
Again, splitting expenses by sharing a home with another person may, in some cases, undercut alimony payments.
Related Reading: Common Child Support Questions Answered
Dating During 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 often intensifies conflict. For many people, it’s hard not to take it personally.
Your ex may push harder or be more resistant than otherwise out of spite, whether conscious or not.
If there are claims of adultery or marital misconduct, the other side may point toward 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 starting to live 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.
At the same time, it’s important to consider the impact of dating during a 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.
Related Reading: How Does Legal Marijuana Impact Child Custody?