I’m in the middle of a divorce but have already fallen in love with somebody else. Is it legal to get engaged before the divorce is final? If so, will it affect the divorce outcome?
Is it legal to get engaged before your divorce is final? Of course, because being engaged has no legal significance or consequence. However, your engagement to someone else may affect the divorce outcome, despite the fact that it has no legal significance.
Getting divorced is perhaps the most emotionally traumatic experience people go through in their lives. Divorce is often compared to suffering through the death of a loved one. Hence, any factor that worsens a divorcing person’s emotional state can affect the time, stress, and cost involved in finalizing a divorce.
If you believe that your estranged spouse would be upset knowing that you have fallen in love with someone else and that you are engaged to this person, then it is possible that your divorce will not proceed as quickly, easily, and cheaply as it could have if you did not disclose this information.
If you have children with your estranged spouse, the news of your engagement may contribute to increased resistance in your estranged spouse to resolving custody and visitation issues. Moreover, your children may suffer increased negative psychological consequences as a result of the heightened friction between you and your estranged spouse.
To add to the increased cost of your divorce resulting from your estranged spouse’s reaction to your pending marriage, you may also have financial consequences resulting from your current choices regarding your new significant other. For example, have you established joint bank accounts with this person? Have you spent money on this person that was earned before you separated from your spouse? Are you living with your significant other in the same residence in which you and your spouse used to reside? Is your significant other supporting you in any way? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, there may be a negative financial impact on how much you receive in the division of the community estate (i.e. the marital property you and your spouse have to divide) as well as the spousal support you may be entitled to receive.
Finally, people going through a divorce often find new significant others before the divorce is final for the wrong reasons. Before marrying someone new before the ink on your divorce judgment is even dry, I would recommend you work with a mental-health professional to make sure you’re making the right decision.
John Adam Lazor is a former attorney that practiced family law with Feinberg, Mindel, Brandt & Klein in Los Angeles.