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Is it a good idea to start dating during divorce & custody cases?

How soon is too soon to start dating again after divorce? There isn’t a rule or timeline that works for every person, but it is important to note that “after divorce” means after the divorce has been finalized. If you date while separated or in the middle of the divorce process it could complicate the outcome of your divorce and possibly hurt your chances of a favorable child custody ruling.

The most potentially damaging aspect of dating during divorce and child custody proceedings is having a new romantic partner spend the night. This could hurt and confuse your children as well as complicate decisions around spousal support, child support and custody.

Say, for instance, that you receive spousal support and that it is tied to your cohabitation/re-marriage status. In California, you may be considered to be cohabitating if you have a romantic partner stay over for three nights, whether or not the nights are consecutive. Your ex-spouse may try to use this new relationship as a means of arguing that you don’t need or deserve spousal support.

Having a new partner sleep over can also hurt your children emotionally, as well as hurt your chances of a favorable child custody ruling. Kids may not be comfortable meeting your new romantic partner while they are still trying to cope with the news that their parents are getting a divorce. Having them see a string of romantic partners (rather than just one) could make things even worse.

In the midst of a divorce or child custody case, it is important to consistently demonstrate that you are fair, reasonable and responsible. This includes how you act toward your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and how your actions reflect your children’s best interests. Dating again before divorce and child custody issues are finalized can send a message that you are more concerned with your own happiness and enjoyment than with respecting your kids and your ex.

To be sure, dating during divorce may not be completely out of the question. That needs to be a personal decision based on the circumstances of your case. But be aware that any romantic relationships taking place during divorce or child custody proceedings could have serious and enduring consequences.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How Overnight Dates Could Seriously Damage Your Custody Case," Lenore Skonal, Mar. 10, 2014

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