Should I Date While My Pennsylvania Divorce Is Pending?
Divorces can sometimes take a long time to be finalized for various reasons. The divorcing couple may go into the divorce expecting to simply finish the process and take some time before starting a new relationship. However, things sometimes take a different turn and a divorcing spouse may wish to date or get in a serious relationship with another person while the divorce is pending. As this happens, questions may arise about the repercussions of the decision to date during a divorce may be.
It is important to first consider on what grounds the petition for divorce was filed. Pennsylvania law allows for fault-based divorces, including on the basis of adultery. If the divorce was filed on the grounds that a spouse’s infidelity caused the breakdown of the marriage, the spouse accused of adultery should probably wait until after the divorce is finalized before continuing or starting another romantic relationship. If the person who the divorcing spouse wants to date was a person the spouse was having an affair with before the divorce, the continued relationship may be used in court as evidence of the adultery.
If a divorce is granted on the basis of adultery, it may affect the amount of alimony awarded in the divorce only if the adultery is connected to spousal abuse. Pennsylvania law prohibits judges from considering marital misconduct when awarding alimony unless the misconduct is abuse. Adultery and dating while the divorce is pending would not ordinarily affect issues of child custody or support unless a parent’s new romantic relationship with the new person is shown to cause harm the children.
Dating during the divorce can affect the amount a spouse gets when the court divides the marital assets if, for example, the spouse is using marital funds or assets towards the new relationship. This could include buying lavish gifts, paying for vacations, or even buying a joint home with the new romantic partner using marital funds. When marital funds are dissipated in this way, the court can award more to the other spouse to ensure an equitable distribution.
If the divorcing couple has children together, dating while the divorce is pending may be hurtful and confusing to the children. Especially to younger children who may have a more difficult time with the divorce overall. If parents choose to date, they should discuss the best way to handle this with the children and help them through the transition.
Finally, it is also important to consider how dating will affect the tenor of the divorce. In some cases, a divorce that has been amicable and civil can turn acrimonious because one spouse decides to date while the divorce is pending and the other spouse becomes jealous.
Contact us for more information
You have to move on with your life after divorce, and this may mean moving on with someone new. Because relationships right before or during a divorce may raise some issues in the proceedings, it is wise to consult with an experienced divorce attorney before making any major moves. For more information on filing for divorce and the process itself, contact an experienced divorce attorney at the Media, Pennsylvania law firm Barbara Flum Stein & Associates serving Delaware County in all family law matters.