I get it, you’ve met someone during your divorce, and it feels like a miracle. You’ve gone months or maybe years of hurt drama and lack of intimacy that now you feel “alive” again and hopeful of a brighter future. You may be thinking that you’ll be able to go through your divorce without having to deal with the stress and feelings you’ve had up to this point. As a coach, I understand the need to heal and move on, however, this is most likely not the right time for taking on a new relationship as a way to heal your wounded heart and spirit.
With all this goodness of dating during the divorce, what can be wrong? Isn’t the point of the divorce so that you each can lead a happier life?
The problem with the new relationship is not the relationship, it is the timing and manner of it. While there is no law prohibiting dating while going through a divorce, it could, however, affect the outcome of the legal proceedings between you and your ex-spouse in many ways. It is important to be aware of potential consequences to you, your children, and the terms of your divorce.
Here are a few ways you may be affected:
- Amicability– Let’s be honest, if you initiated the divorce, your ex would assume your new relationship is the result of being unfaithful and will affect your partner’s desire to settle things amicably. The elevated conflict will result in additional stress and chaos and could prolong your divorce process from months to possibly years of hell. Also keep in mind, that even the most fair-minded judges may be influenced by uncorroborated accusations of adultery.
- Parenting time– When custody/parenting time is a bone of contention in your divorce, trust me when I say, your ex will twist and turn the facts about your new relationship and use this against you. You may be accused of your relationship taking up too much of your time, therefore, you have less capacity for parenting. Also, you may think you are so in love and wish to give up shared parenting time to concentrate on your new relationship. Once that fizzles out, you will realize you’ve made a grave mistake which will be incredibly challenging, if at all even possible, to change. You may have permanently damaged your co-parenting relationship, right from the start.
- Financial costs– Remember, every motion filed, every mediation session and every hour your attorney works on your case are billable hours! The increased chaos in your divorce case will only make your attorneys richer by the hour. If you are using marital funds to pay for your new relationship, ie: trips, jewelry, etc. your spouse may fight hard for money and try to prove “marital waste.” In regard to paying spousal support, your ex may seek a much larger amount due to anger and revenge or if you are the one seeking alimony, your new relationship may be used as an argument as to why you need less due to a new partner who may be financially helping you and if you move in with your new relationship, the court may decide you need less assistance if any.
- Your children– When going through a divorce, children will need extra attention, love, and reassurance to ease their fears for them to cope with the anxiety and confusion divorce brings. The last thing children need is to compete for their parent’s affections with a new relationship dating during divorce can impair your children’s healing. If you’re thinking you could just hide the relationship, I’m here to tell you children are far more aware of things than you realize, and trust me when I tell you they will resent your divided attention, especially during a time they need you the most. I’ve had clients, whose children do their best to sabotage the new relationship due to feelings of hurt and betrayal since they will likely blame this new relationship as the cause of the divorce. If this begins to happen, they will never love, accept, or respect your new partner.
Remember, divorce is a stage you’re going through right now. The process will move faster and less expensive by keeping things simple and drama free. Before long, you will be free to date and move forward however you choose, but for now, wait to date. Your kids will thank you for it too.
The Divorce Coach for Men