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Can I date if I’m legally separated?

October 10, 2017 Our Blog

New York law on divorce doesn’t explicitly give a “yes” or “no” to this question. Technically, you can date before the marriage is over. We all know a spouse who begins dating even when they’re married in the first place. Despite the fact that it’s possible to date, the big question is always how will the dating impact your divorce and the best possible outcome you’re seeking. For this reason, while it’s technically possible to begin dating after a legal separation, the question you really want to ask yourself is SHOULD you start dating before your divorce is final?

Let’s look at the negative consequences that dating during a legal separation could have during your divorce. There are many. The most obvious impact that dating during a separation will have on your divorce outcome is that it may emotionally scar and anger your current spouse. This can lead to the scorned spouse to pursue more aggressive litigation against you in the divorce. While there’s nothing that will automatically award your spouse everything they ask for in the case of dating during a separation, it can look bad before the spouse themselves and before the court, who may be attempting to call in mediators and save the marriage itself. Long story short, it reflects poorly on your character.

Secondly, in some states, it can be grounds for a divorce itself. In other words, dating while your separated may make the court feel that the divorce is your fault. While there are few states where you have to prove grounds for divorce, New York is one of those states. This means that if you date during a legal separation, there is a chance that your spouse could win a divorce on grounds of infidelity (barring any additional agreements that allow you to date). This shows just how serious dating before a divorce is final can be, and keep in mind that you should NEVER begin dating before you’re physically separated. If you’re dating while living with your spouse, this reflects poorly with the courts, unless you have an explicit or private agreement with your spouse and there’s clear understanding of the rules.

The best part of your situation right now is that you cared enough to look into this matter. That means you’re opening to following sound legal advice about dating before a legal separation. No reputable attorney is going to advise you to do this unless there’s some pressing matter that recommends following this course of action. However, as to whether or not you CAN date after you’re legally separated, yes you can, but it may have lasting consequences for the outcome of your divorce.

If both you and your partner have agreed that it’s okay to date, and they’re also dating, then it may not have as many consequences as when a partner is dead set against dating until the divorce is finalized. Also, some divorces can drag out for years before they’re finalized, and in this instance it may be more understandable as to why you’re dating during the legal separation. In New York, judges will look at all sides of the story and find out what is going on that one partner is dating. If the spouse you’re divorcing or that is divorcing you has no problem with both of you dating, it may not even be an issue.

Like most things in divorce proceedings, it’s logical to take this question on a case by case basis. There is no one size fits all answer because everyone has a different set of circumstances surrounding their divorce. Before going ahead and dating during your legal separation, talk to a lawyer who can represent you in this instance if your spouse has difficulty accepting that you’re dating again. Naturally, the lawyer can shed more light on your circumstances and let you know what the repercussions of dating during your legal separation might be.

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