Although there are newer and sometimes more interesting words to describe the activity, “dating” is still an issue in divorces. Problems can occur in two different arenas: in the emotional relationship with your spouse and in the legal system.
The simplest, although not necessarily the easiest, way to avoid problems is to not date before the divorce is final.
Many people seem to think that once they separate or file for divorce or once they have been separated for a period of time, it's OK to date. Once people decide to leave a bad relationship, they often will consider dating for a variety of reasons, including, fun, companionship, romance, revenge, to enjoy freedom from the current spouse, or to battle loneliness.
Perceptive people often realize that dating another person while the divorce is pending may make their spouse really angry. It may not be a rational response by the spouse – it usually isn't – but who said divorces were rational situations? People going through divorces are rarely rational. Jealousy and anger are often inflamed when a party discovers their spouse has been or is dating. Allegations of “adultery” carry an emotional punch and can lead to the friends and allies of the victim adding to the fire. Getting a spouse really angry over an emotional issue such as adultery almost inevitably makes negotiations much more difficult and severely reduces the possibility of cooperation and settlement.
In Texas, adultery can have legal consequences as well. If proven, adultery can be the basis for the court to award an unequal division of property favoring the victim of the indiscretion. It can also become a factor in a custody case, depending on how the dating impacts on children.
In his posting, “Divorce Preparation: Step 13 – Be Good”, based on a posting in the Alabama Family Law Blog, Grant Griffiths (Kansas Family and Divorce Lawyer) explains clearly how a variety of social activities, including old-fashioned dating or group activities or parties, can have negative consequences in a divorce. Exercising, enjoying time with children and/or focusing on getting one's life in order are better alternatives for the time period before a divorce is final.
Grant's advice – to Be Good – is the perfect understatement. In so many ways, it is both a solution to problems and the key to avoiding problems. Self-restraint, delayed gratification or maturity, whatever you call it – Be Good and you will avoid a lot of problems.