Dating After Separation

A question that family law attorneys are often asked is: “How long after separation should I wait before I start dating?”

Unfortunately, the answer varies depending on the unique circumstances of each case, the legal issues involved, and the geographic region where the parties reside. There are a number of reasons why family law attorneys who practice in or around Asheville, North Carolina recommend clients resolve their legal and personal issues with their current spouse before they become involved in another romantic relationship. Some of the issues that a family law attorney may consider in advising you whether it is appropriate in your situation to begin dating are as follows:

  1. Dating could negatively affect your case from a legal standpoint. In North Carolina, if marital misconduct is an issue in your case, then your post separation conduct may become relevant to your legal proceedings to the extent that it is used to corroborate your pre-separation conduct.
  2. A new romantic interest in your life could complicate your divorce proceedings. Divorce can be a difficult and emotionally painful experience, and introducing a third party into an already tense situation may increase feelings of hostility, jealousy, anger, and resentment between you and your spouse. This may reduce the likelihood that you and your spouse will be able to reach an amicable settlement.
  3. If you have children, becoming romantically involved too soon after separation may cause your children additional anxiety and confusion. Further, if child custody is an issue, the impact your new relationship has on your children may adversely affect your rights to custody and/or visitation.
  4. Under North Carolina law, your romantic involvement with a third-party prior to divorce could give rise to legal claims for alienation of affection and criminal conversation. Your attorney can provide you with more information regarding the elements of these claims.

As illustrated above, your decision to date before your divorce is final may have serious legal consequences. Before you begin dating, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to make sure you understand the affect it may have on your legal case.

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