New relationships are typically inevitable after a divorce is finalized. However, someone who is divorced or getting a divorce re-emerges into a completely different dating world. A lot of the time this person will have feelings they still need to work through relative to their divorce. There may be children from a previous marriage or relationship who are now involved. The dating world and all that comes with it certainly will be different from the dating world was prior to the person’s marriage. So, what factors does someone need to consider when exploring a post-divorce or post-break up relationship?
Tips for New Relationships During the Divorce Process
1. If Dating While the Divorce is Pending, Be Careful About Spending Money
Using money that is “marital” (money earned during the marriage) then you could be charged with dissipation in your divorce case for spending marital money on a non-marital purpose. This may include vacations with a significant other, expensive meals, lavish gifts, and other spending of marital funds for a non-marital purpose. It is important that you do not spend marital monies on a significant other. Otherwise, you may have to pay it back into the marital estate.
2. If Dating While the Divorce is Pending, Be Careful About Introductions to your Children
Every dating situation is different and highly dependent upon the parties involved. However, introducing a new significant other to your children while a divorce is pending could come back to bite you. Now, if you have been living separate and apart for many years and you are in a serious relationship that you think will be moving to the next level, where you are moving in together (making it nearly impossible for the minor children not to meet the significant other) or getting married, it could backfire to wait too long, because then it looks as if you were keeping a big secret from your children. The best way to approach this is to assess your own family’s needs and ability to adapt by talking to professionals about when the time is right to make the introduction. This might mean talking to the children’s teachers, doctors, therapists, or a Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representative who is working on the case. You should talk to your divorce attorney first to design a plan as to who to consult about the introduction. In many cases, talking to your ex about the introduction before it happens is also recommended, but it is entirely situation-dependent.
3. If Dating While Your Divorce is Pending, Be Careful About Introductions to your Children
It is just as important to make sure that you are making a proper introduction to your minor children after the divorce is finalized as it is to do so during the pending divorce matter. Your divorce decree or Allocation Judgment might have very specific rules regarding when to make these introductions, if there is a waiting period of dating prior to making an introduction or if there is a qualifying event that allows an introduction such as an engagement or moving in together. It is important to make sure you are abiding by the terms of your Allocation Judgment or divorce decree when making this introduction. Again, even though the divorce is finalized, it is still important to consult professionals who work with your children regarding if the introduction is a good idea, and it may still be a good idea to talk to your ex prior to the introduction. Many people can assist you in talking to your ex and making this introduction to your children, including your attorney or therapist. It is important that any introduction is done in a calculated manner to avoid issues later.
4. Date Someone Who is Like-Minded Regarding Your Other Relationships
As mentioned above, a big issue with dating after or during a divorce is the complication of children being involved. It is very important to make sure that whoever you are dating is on the same page as you regarding the children’s involvement. For example, if both parties have children from a prior relationship, the parties need to discuss many issues regarding the introduction of the minor children to one another and to the other’s children. Children tend to always want to feel as if they are being put first above a new party who is introduced, and it is important that the other party and you share the same ideas about how this will work. It is also important that you know that the time you spend with your children should not always be with the new significant other. Perhaps the significant other can join for weekly dinners, but will not be a part of weekend parenting time. The quality time between parent and child should be free from the new significant other to preserve the parent and child relationship.
It isn’t just the children who the new significant other must be “like-minded” regarding, but also your ex. If your new significant other is going to insert themselves into arguments you have with your ex or get insecure and upset if you and your ex have a good friendship, then the new relationship may not work out. And, it is a two-way street. You need to be prepared for your new significant other’s relationship with their ex when children are involved. Everyone needs to be on the same page regarding what will be appropriate since the interaction is bound to happen.