Going through a divorce brings forth a multitude of different emotions and revelations for people. For some, it can be frustrating, heartbreaking, and crippling. For others, it may bring a sense of peace, liberation and stand as the symbol of a better future. Most likely, it will be a mix of both, but nonetheless it is in fact a time that one door is closing and a new door opening—a sentiment many spouses in an unhappy marriage may not have felt in years. Suddenly, you’re recreating different facets of your life, your romantic relationships being one of them.
As a marriage begins to fall apart and the divorce process begins, it’s not uncommon for one or both spouses to start looking elsewhere for romance and the comforts of companionship, especially if the divorce has been a long time coming. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be wondering if dating during a divorce will be used against you or can hurt your case. While the answer to this cannot be answered with a simple yes or no, there are a few factors to be aware of regarding child custody and spousal support.
It’s important to understand that when deciding on an appropriate child custody plan, the court’s primary concern is the well-being of your children—this factor will trump above all else. So, while dating itself is not a factor the court will consider, the relationship between you and your child is, and any serious negative effects your new boyfriend or girlfriend may have on your kids could be used against you, especially if there’s any question of safety. If your new relationship seems to be posing significant distress for your children, especially if this is due to your new partner being emotionally or verbally abusive, it could be argued that spending time in this new environment is not in your children’s best interest.
In general, if you’re exploring new dating options, it’s best to ask yourself how this will affect your children—will it have a negative or positive impact? Will it affect their desire to spend time with you and their ability to connect with and trust you? If you’re concerned, it might be best to keep your new relationship separate from your time with your kids while wrapping up your divorce. While dating during a divorce is not wrong, it may not be the best time to introduce new people to your kids—they will be coping with the divorce, thus maintaining a strong relationship with them throughout the process should be a top priority.
Spousal & Child Support
While simply dating and exploring new relationships during a divorce is not grounds for altering spousal or child support plans, cohabitating and sharing an income with a new partnercan result in a different outcome.
The idea behind spousal support is that both parties are able to maintain a similar lifestyle that they enjoyed during marriage outside of the divorce. If you’ve decided to move in with your new partner and thus have two incomes and less expenses that are falling directly on you, the court may see it fit that you pay more alimony to help even the playing field. The same idea goes for child support—if you’re sharing expenses with your new significant other, the court may feel you’re obligated to provide more support, or receive less support, to and from your ex.
If you’re considering dating during a divorce, make sure you’re well aware of all the varying factors that can affect a favorable child custody and spousal support plan. While it’s absolutely normal to desire and pursue a new relationship, tread water carefully and make sure you’re being especially sensitive to how a new partner will affect your children’s well-being and your financial standing. Most importantly, make sure you have a strong attorney by your side who will protect your rights and ensure you receive the best results possible. To schedule a case evaluation with Landerholm Family Law, call (503) 227-0200.