Is Dating During Divorce Adultery?

For married couples who make the difficult decision to divorce, it’s only a matter of time before they start to move on and form new relationships. If you or your spouse are still technically married but going through divorce proceedings, the idea of dating raises many questions, including “Is dating during divorce adultery?”

Learn more about what constitutes adultery and how dating during a divorce may impact the proceedings. The legal team at Lincoln & Wenk, PLLC, focuses on family law and can help you understand the legal implications of dating during divorce. Contact our office if you need experienced divorce lawyers in Phoenix to advocate for you. 

Adultery Concerns in Divorce Cases

Every state allows no-fault divorce cases, meaning you don’t have to cite any specific wrongdoing in the breakdown of the marriage. Individuals who file for divorce often do so on this basis, which paves the way for the couple’s marital assets to be split equally. However, there are three fault-based scenarios a person can raise when they petition the court:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Unreasonable behavior

Say you file for divorce because your partner has been unfaithful in your marriage. If you can prove your spouse’s adultery, it could favor you in some ways. You may be able to have your partner pay your court fees or seek alimony payments due to their infidelity. 

Every state and situation differs, so it’s wise to consult with a divorce attorney who can explain the impact adultery might have on your case. 

Defining Adultery 

Is dating during divorce adultery? It depends on the situation. Family lawyers define adultery as a married individual making sexual contact with a person who isn’t their spouse. 

You may decide to go to dinner or the movies with someone new as a way of coping with divorce. Innocent dates like this would not be considered adultery, especially if the relationship doesn’t progress into anything sexual. By this definition, the court can’t punish you for going on dates with new people before your divorce becomes final. 

On the other hand, there are instances when dating and adultery in divorce proceedings become more prevalent. If you commit adultery before you or your spouse files for divorce and then continue to have a relationship with the person outside your marriage, the case becomes more complicated. The implications of your actions depend on whether your spouse chooses to file a no-fault or at-fault divorce and how your attorney oversees the case. 

Impact of Dating on Divorce Proceedings

Navigating relationships during the divorce process looks different for everyone. Some people go on dates not with the intention of starting anything serious but to distract them from the stresses of divorce. Others believe their marriage ended a while ago and feel ready to find a partner for this new chapter in their life. 

The question “Is dating during divorce adultery?” will play a key role in individual divorce cases. Below is a breakdown of some potential consequences of dating someone new before your divorce gets finalized. 

Judges Consider All Types of Marital Misconduct

All divorce proceedings are unique, but even judges in no-fault states can take into account marital misconduct like infidelity, abandonment, and cruelty. If one spouse enters a new relationship before the legal dissolution of the marriage, the judge may question their morals and form a bias against them. 

The judicial system aims to be as unbiased as possible, but forming thoughts and judgments about a situation is natural. With this in mind, lawyers advise against forming new relationships before the divorce becomes final. 

New Relationships Influence a Couple’s Asset Division

When is dating during divorce adultery, and what kind of impact can it have on the proceedings? In the eyes of the legal system, starting a new relationship while married can have major financial consequences during the splitting of assets. 

Say you enter a relationship with someone new and begin living with them before the divorce becomes final. Cohabitating with a partner other than your spouse brings into question your financial situation since you can presumably share finances with your new partner. A judge may be more inclined to give you less in marital assets than your spouse because of your change in financial situation. 

Dating Raises Spousal Support Concerns

Like with the division of assets, living with a new partner can impact any spousal support rulings. Having a new partner share the responsibility for your housing, food, and utility costs could make the court less likely to grant you a set amount in monthly alimony payments. It could even mean you’d have to pay your former spouse alimony. 

Spouses Feel Hurt and Less Likely To Compromise

When it comes to divorce and the question of adulterous relationships, people have a lot to process, and emotions can run high. Lawyers advise divorcing couples to stay cordial and amicable throughout the process. However, seeing a partner move into a new relationship can escalate emotions. 

For example, if your spouse did not commit adultery during the marriage but then begins dating during the divorce, it might drum up feelings of anger and hurt. As your way of coping with these emotions, you might be less likely to compromise on certain marital assets. This ultimately prolongs the process and adds to the stress of divorce. 

Is It Adultery To Date While Separated From a Spouse?

If you ask a family law professional, “Is dating during divorce adultery?” they will tell you that, generally, the answer is “no.” However, dating during a separation period can be a bit murkier from a legal standpoint. When is dating considered adultery in this circumstance?

It largely depends on the state’s stance on legal separation. Certain states define separation as having a marital settlement and one of the partners relocating their home and belongings. Other states consider divorce the only legal basis for separating from a spouse.

Dating during a time of separation may be considered adultery since you and your spouse are still legally married. Consult with a family law attorney to review your case and present the facts for your state’s laws. 

How To Navigate Relationships During Divorce

Ending a marriage is a major turning point in your life. You may feel ready to re-enter the dating world right after petitioning the court, but keep in mind that starting new relationships during divorce proceedings could impact your case. Lawyers recommend the following tips for navigating relationships during this transitional period. 

Wait Until the Marriage Is Legally Dissolved

If you have to ask, “Is dating during divorce adultery?” and have concerns about how it will impact your proceedings, the smart thing to do is put dating on the back burner until the divorce is finalized. You and your spouse may both agree the marriage was broken long before filing for divorce. However, jumping into a new relationship that involves living with a new partner can influence what you receive in marital assets, as well as any type of spousal support you receive. 

It may be hard to wait several months until the divorce decree is final. In the end, dating someone in the middle of your proceedings could make your spouse less willing to cooperate and prolong the process. 

Build Platonic Friendships

Dating doesn’t have to end in serious, long-term relationships. You can choose to meet new people and go on dates with the intention of forming a platonic relationship. Going on dates with this mindset can help you build a support system during your divorce. 

If you establish a friendship with a person and want to develop it into a romantic relationship, try to wait until the divorce is final to avoid potential consequences during the proceedings. 

Focus on Your Children

For divorcing couples with children, the relationship worth prioritizing is that with your children and co-parent. The separation of parents can be emotionally difficult for children of all ages. During this time, they will need support, love, and guidance from you and your spouse. 

Divorce is extremely stressful for children who now experience sudden changes in their parental relationships. They may only see one parent every so often and need to go between two different houses. Seeing a parent date someone new can add to their emotional turmoil. 

For this reason, put a pause on dating and instead focus on helping your kids heal. 

Contact Lincoln & Wenk, PLLC, for Family and Divorce Law Guidance

Navigating the divorce process is stressful and confusing. You’ll likely have several questions running through your mind, including “Is dating during divorce adultery?” and “How does moving out during divorce impact the proceedings?” An experienced family law attorney can answer these questions and more as you endure this major event. 

Lincoln & Wenk, PLLC, is Arizona’s trustworthy law firm dealing with divorce and family law cases. Turn to our legal team if you’re going through a divorce and need an attorney to fight for you. Call (623) 294-2464 to request a consultation with our knowledgeable attorneys. 

Call us at 623-294-2464 or contact us to schedule your consultation today.

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