Is My Spouse Allowed to Date During Our Divorce?

Is My Spouse Allowed to Date During Our Divorce?

If you are in the midst of the divorce process it can be distressing to learn that your soon-to-be-ex spouse is dating someone else.  Is there anything you can do about it and how will it impact your divorce?

This is certainly a difficult and emotional issue; however, it is generally not a legal one.  When one spouse files for divorce, the law automatically considers the spouses to be legally separated. Often at this stage spouses begin living in separate residences and begin to think about what their lives will look like after the divorce is over. This makes dating a relatively common occurrence although it certainly can cause hurt feelings.  The legal reality is that there is no legal barrier to a person starting to date while a divorce is pending.

A common question that parents have during a divorce is whether there is any impact on custody or parenting time if the other parent is dating during divorce.  In most cases, there is not.  If the new dating relationship involves domestic violence or has introduced a dangerous person into the lives of the children, it is possible that this issue can be discussed when setting custody and parenting time orders.  In most cases, however, the new relationship would not be considered by the court as impacting the ability of a parent to properly parent a child.

If your soon-to-be-ex spouse is dating, the most important thing that you can do is to find a healthy and safe space to discuss any feelings you have about it.  Talking to a counselor, family member, or trusted friend to work through your feelings is healthy and appropriate.  Discussing the issue with your children is inappropriate as they are already going through a significant life change because of the divorce.  Burdening them with the need to support you in your hurt and anger is asking too much of a child.  In addition, refrain from angry or disruptive interactions with your ex during parenting time exchanges or at children’s events.  These outbursts can have an impact on custody and parenting time as they reflect on your ability to be an appropriate parent.

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Holly Wanzer Attorney
Ms. Wanzer is a founding attorney of Wanzer Edwards, P.C. where she focuses her practice in family law and divorce, including collaborative law, family mediation, parenting coordination, appeals and representation of children as a guardian ad litem. Ms. Wanzer earned her Juris Doctor summa cum laude from the Indiana University Robert McKinney School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude from Ball State University, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in English and advertising.
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