Dating During Your Florida Divorce: Legal, But is it Smart?
Many people have no desire to jump back into the dating pool while they are going through a divorce. If the divorce was not mutual, they are most likely mourning the loss of their marriage, not out looking for love. But some people – whether the divorce is taking longer than expected due to disagreement, the first open court date is more than a year out, or if they initiated the divorce after years of unhappiness or even abuse – are ready to jump back into the dating pool soon after the divorce papers are filed.
Florida law does not prohibit couples from dating during the divorce. But just because it is legal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. Some of the reasons you may want to think twice about dating while the divorce is ongoing are purely emotional, while others could have a very real impact on the outcome of the divorce or child custody case. From an emotional standpoint, you simply may not be ready for a new relationship, especially if you were blindsided by the divorce. Your children may also not be ready for a new parent figure to come into their lives.
From a legal standpoint, dating during divorce may cause bitterness than can prolong the proceedings, or may result in you receiving less time with your children under a time-sharing plan. And don’t think your spouse won’t find out about your new relationship – the rise of social media makes it easy for anybody to uncover information on their spouse. Some of the reasons you may want to reconsider dating while the divorce is ongoing include:
Increased animosity. Dating before the divorce is final can increase animosity between the spouses. Despite the fact that the marriage has ended – even if both parties agreed that divorce is the best option – jealousy often flares up when one spouse finds out that their soon-to-be ex is in a new relationship. If the wife begins dating shortly after the paperwork has been filed, the husband may feel that his wife moved on so quickly because the marriage meant nothing to her or, worse yet, that the wife was unfaithful during the marriage. Although adultery has no bearing on the outcome of the divorce, these feelings of jealousy can cause the slighted party to bear down in negotiations as a means of retaliation for these perceived slights. The result? Lengthier and more expensive proceedings as every detail is fought over.
Adverse impact on time-sharing plans. Time-sharing plans are decided based upon what is in the child’s best interests. If you are dating, the child’s other parent can argue that you are neglecting the children in favor of your dating life, that you are exposing the children to inappropriate situations (if the new partner spends the night at your home while the children are present, for example), or that the children are being adversely affected by your partner. Worst case scenario, the judge agrees that the relationship is adversely affecting your parenting abilities and awards your spouse a greater amount of time with the children. Even if the allegations are unfounded and the court disregards them, it still prolongs the proceedings and adds unnecessary stress to your life.
Poor decision making. The excitement of a new relationship can negatively impact your decision making. Eager to put the past behind you so you can move on with your new love, you may enter into an agreement – an inequitable distribution of assets, or agreeing to pay alimony when the circumstances don’t justify the payment – simply to get the divorce finalized. But decisions made during the divorce have a long-lasting impact, so hasty decisions in the short term can wreak havoc later on.
Boca Raton Divorce Attorneys
Divorce can often be complicated and messy, not simply because of issues related to division of assets and child custody, but because emotions are involved. With more than 50 years’ combined experience handling divorce, the Boca Raton divorce attorneys at Schwartz | White have seen it all. We can help you navigate the thorny issues that sometimes crop up while fighting aggressively to get you the settlement you deserve. Contact our office today at 561.391.9943. All initial consultations are free.