Guest Author - Caroline Henrich
Statutes usually determine the permissible time period that must exist between separation and when a divorce can be filed and granted in uncontested and no fault divorces. In some states this is 60 days and in some states it is a year or longer. There are probably similar type rules and provisions in other countries.
There are likely numerous issues that arise during this time period, one of which would be whether to date. From a legal perspective, many attorneys would advise their clients that dating during the separation period could permit their spouse's counsel to paint them in a bad light involving separation of assets and child custody. Psychologists may advise that people should focus on their children (if they have any) and themselves and that dating will only add unnecessary complications. There is also the possibility of becoming involved in a rebound relationship.
There is also the issue of dealing with the emotional issues of a spouse who does not want the divorce and is jealous if you begin dating during the divorce process.
Certainly, each person should listen to their legal advisers and psychological professionals, but at the end of the day the decision to date is a personal decision. This is especially true when separation periods are long.
It is key to first understand whether there is a desire to reconcile with your spouse. If you believe that this is a real possiblity and you are willing to undergo counseling, then dating while this process is ongoing is probably not advantageous to your efforts to reconcile.
If however it is clear to you the marriage is over and there is no love, then it is necessary to consider the pros and cons to dating during separation.
First, there are the legal issues discussed above. You should ask your legal advisor whether there are any specific legal reasons why you cannot date during separation. Some states may have provisions that consider dating during divorce as marital misconduct which could impact the amount of alimony you receive or are required to pay. These may have been changed to only address premarital misconduct, but you should understand your state's laws. Your attorney may also say the particular judge in your case may disapprove, even though there is no provision in the law and this could impact your child custody or visitation. While this may not be fair or even legally sustainable upon appeal, it is something to consider when making your decision.
Decide whether you are emotionally capable of dating during separation. Determine your own expectations if you decide you want to date during separation. Are you looking for a person to have dinner with or are you looking for a great love? Looking for a "great love" during this time period may be unrealistic or harmful to your emotional well being.
Consider your children, if you have them. You may be ready to have fun, but remember your children are still trying to process the change and may be confused and hurting. Therefore, please consider their feelings and needs. Going to a movie with someone is different than having them sleep over with your children in the house. Many people feel most comfortable only going on dates when their children are with the other parent.
Having friends of both genders is important. The decision as to whether to date during separation is one that only you can make. This article is to assist you in asking yourself questions before you make your decision. Some people may decide they are not ready to date, some may decide for legal reasons it is not a good idea. Some may decide they do not want to risk a chance at reconciliation with their spouse. Some do not want to anger their spouse and will wait until they are officially divorced. Some are just not ready psychologically to date during this time. Some have examined all of the issues and decide they want to date.
I hope you make the right decision for you.