Can I Date While Going through a Divorce?

By Michael DiFalco

For many New Yorkers, ending a marriage eventually means starting a new relationship. It’s not uncommon for recently divorced people to start a new chapter in their lives by dating.

While many states across the country frown heavily upon spouses who date while a divorce is pending, New York’s progressive statutes don’t generally care about dating in most circumstances. 

Dating is largely a personal choice, but there are some precautions to consider, especially if you still live under the same roof as your partner or share minor children.

If you’re currently involved in a divorce proceeding, it may be wise to hold off on dating other people until you’ve finalized the process.

Child Custody and Dating During a Divorce

Under New York child custody laws, courts consider many factors and evidence before making a decision. While the personal dating life of each parent is not one of the factors that judges consider, it may sometimes affect adjacent factors and cause issues in terms of custody and parenting time.

Whenever a spouse engages in dating, they may bring different partners to the household and introduce new people to their child. Judges may sometimes find these behaviors to lack good judgment. 

If you’re involved in a contentious custody battle, your spouse may use your dating life to try to convince the judge that the child’s best interests are not fulfilled under your care. They may also question or raise issues about the new partner, for example, their background or possible negative effects exposing that new person to the child may cause–often without much basis in the facts.

One of the major issues that might result from beginning to date during a divorce is the emotional and potentially jealous reaction of your spouse. Sometimes a spurned partner can become vindictive or take a completely different position regarding custody based on an emotional reaction to their spouse having a new relationship.

Divorce proceedings are complex legal battles. When your child’s future is on the line, it’s best to take precautions and avoid excessive dating until you’ve secured custody and finalized your divorce. 

Adultery and Dating During a Divorce 

Essentially all New York divorces are “no-fault,” meaning there’s no wrongdoing to address by any party.

Although New York law doesn’t usually consider dating as a factor that would impact property division, when one party has had an affair and has used marital income or assets, for example to pay for trips or jewelry, the other party may seek credits or compensation for the money that was spent by the cheating spouse. 

Sadly, vindictive spouses often engage in hostile tactics to complicate the divorce or seek additional relief. They sometimes take positions to punish the other spouse or exact revenge after their feelings have been hurt.

Additionally, having a new relationship can also affect any spousal maintenance you may be required to pay. Most divorce agreements include provisions about maintenance terminating if the recipient resides with a new partner for a certain period of time, so the living arrangements involved in a new relationship can sometimes result in complications with respect to spousal maintenance (alimony).

Behavior to Avoid When a Divorce Is Pending

While dating other people can affect a New York divorce only in rare circumstances, there are other behaviors everyone should avoid while proceedings are still pending.

Judges frown upon certain actions that could be seen as lacking good judgment, morally wrong, and even criminal. Some things to avoid doing while your divorce is still pending include:

  • Making posts on social media that your spouse may use against you
  • Introducing the child to a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Having any new boyfriend or girlfriend stay overnight at the marital residence
  • Having multiple relationships while a divorce is pending
  • Allegations of alcohol or substance use by the new partner
  • Allowing a boyfriend or girlfriend to discipline the children 
  • Allowing a new partner to speak negatively about the other parent
  • Using children as intermediaries 

While a New York divorce can be a slow process, you should always follow the instructions of your lawyer to avoid any problems down the road. Failure to do so can result in severe consequences that could affect your finances and child custody rights.

Protect Your Rights During a Divorce

The family law attorneys at Aiello & DiFalco represent divorce cases in Garden City, NY, and the surrounding areas. Call our office today for a free consultation.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.