Men’s Divorce Lawyer, Cordell & Cordell
Divorce attorneys usually frown upon dating during the divorce process because having a girlfriend can negatively impact the outcome of divorce proceedings. Dads should wait until after the divorce is finalized to begin a new relationship.
But what if you and your spouse have found new partners during a drawn out divorce and you both want to move on? If you both agree to allow the other to date during the divorce process will it negatively affect your divorce case?
It is true that any romantic relationship outside your marriage is technically adultery. Whether or parties must be divorced on adultery grounds when the parties did not begin to see other people until after the separation is a different issue, however.
You can most likely be divorced on no-fault grounds even if you see others after you become separated. In fact, in Texas where I practice, the parties can still be divorced on no-fault grounds even if one party committed adultery during the time the parties lived together as husband and wife, so long as both parties agree to proceed with the no-fault option.
Many times, where adultery was present, couples decide they do not want allegations of adultery in a public record, or they do not want to escalate an already tense situation, so they agree to divorce on no-fault grounds.
In order to divorce on no-fault grounds in some states, the parties must live apart and not cohabitate with each other for an extended period of time. This usually means that they cannot live with each other under the same roof. So long as they meet that portion of the requirement, most courts do not force the parties to choose a fault option like adultery just because facts about adultery are present.
The next issue I will address is what can happen if you and your wife no longer agree to proceed on no-fault grounds after you begin dating other people.
It is always difficult to anticipate how your ex will react to the stress of the divorce, and it is especially difficult to predict how she might feel when she knows you are dating again. This could affect what was previously an amicable separation leading towards settlement.
In addition, post-separation dating could be used as evidence of adultery during the time you lived together as husband and wife if your wife could prove or suggest that this new relationship is actually a continuance of a relationship you began prior to the separation.
In that case, she could re-file or amend her pleadings to proceed on adultery grounds, which could affect everything from property settlement to alimony. This could also affect your new dating interests in states that allow civil suits against “people who interfere with a marriage.”
However, if the people you begin dating are genuinely new romantic interests that began after the date of separation, and there is ample proof that the separation was permanent and final, then it is unlikely your wife would be able to prove the new relationship led to the breakdown of the marriage, as the marriage was broken prior to the new relationship beginning.
It would be beneficial to consult an attorney licensed in your state to see if a clause confirming and acknowledging that no extra-marital affairs contributed to the decision to separate could be inserted into a separation agreement and upheld in court.
My concern would be if your wife could later prove that you had an affair that she did not know about at the time she signed the agreement, and she could argue that the affair was your motivation for separation, which may be enough for adultery grounds.
Rachel A. Brucks is a Staff Attorney in the Fort Worth, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Brucks is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Brucks received her Bachelors degrees in English and Political Science from the University of Texas at Arlington. She received her Masters in Literature and Gender Studies from Texas State University, San Marcos; and received her Juris Doctor from Southern Methodists University, Dallas.