“If you date as soon as you’re separated, will it legally affect the outcome of your divorce in any way?”
There are legal, emotional, and child custody/visitation issues to consider.
We have no-fault divorce in California family law, which means that we check the box on the divorce petition that states “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for the divorce; therefore, adultery, mental cruelty, abandonment, etc. do not count as grounds. Those issues are not relevant, so no evidence can be introduced about them in California divorce law.
However, dating right away can affect child custody and visitation. If the parent introduces a new girlfriend or boyfriend to the children and involves the children in the new relationship very quickly, or if the children meet several new “friends,” that can be confusing and painful for them. The judge can find that the parent is not considering the feelings of the children; counseling may be ordered and the amount of time with that parent can be curtailed.
If the new friend lives with the parent, it will affect the amount of spousal support; the theory is that the new boyfriend or girlfriend is contributing to the living costs of the parent.
Then there are emotional issues. Divorce is traumatic; it’s the death of a relationship. Common sense says that the parties would need to heal, to go through the process of dealing with a divorce. Dating as soon as you’re separated may not be wise for your personal emotional health. We always recommend therapy for people going through emotional trauma or divorce.
While the judge does not care if the wife is dating the San Diego Chargers or the husband is dating their cheerleaders, they should think carefully about what is the wisest thing for them — and their children.
Georgine Brave is a San Diego divorce attorney dedicated to assisting her clients through the family-law process with understanding and support. Brave, Weber & Mack offers family lawyers with knowledge, experience, and strong advocacy skills to support clients through any divorce issues.