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Can I start dating before I’m legally divorced?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2023 | Family Law |

By the time your marriage officially folded, you’d long mentally and emotionally moved on. Now that you’re no longer living with your spouse, you’d like to re-enter the dating scene – or maybe you’ve already found a new love interest.

Dating before your divorce is final isn’t forbidden by law. In fact, Illinois law says that property division and spousal maintenance are supposed to be decided “without regard to marital misconduct,” so you can’t be “punished” that way for moving on with your life.

Just the same, you may want to think long and hard about starting a new relationship until the divorce is finalized. Here’s why:

You could end any chance of an uncontested divorce

If your spouse isn’t emotionally ready for you to move on, they may take the idea that you’re dating again very personally and try to thwart any cooperative divorce process. That can turn what might have been an uncontested divorce into an acrimonious and protracted battle in court that’s time-consuming and expensive.

You could negatively affect your relationship with your children

Your relationship with your children can be complicated by a divorce, and even more so once you start dating again. If your children are minors, your romance may even become a point of contention (especially if your co-parent doesn’t approve of your new partner being in contact with the children). If your children are adults, moving on too quickly can fracture your relationship very deeply and add unnecessary stress.

You could be accused of dissipation

You also have to be careful that your new relationship doesn’t open you to charges of dissipation of the marital assets. When a divorce is in process, both parties are generally prohibited from “wasting” the family funds. Romantic trips, hotel rooms, fancy dinners and gifts can all be deducted from what you might otherwise receive out of the marital assets.

Ultimately, you have to decide on your level of comfort when it comes to the risks you face by dating during your divorce, but it’s always wisest to get some experienced legal guidance before you make a wrong move.