Tinder, Match, OK Cupid, and Coffee Meets Bagel, oh my! New dating apps are popping up all the time. They are common ways for millennials to meet each other socially and to form romantic relationships.
But they are expanding rapidly into Generations X and Y as those groups go through divorce and find themselves single in the digital dating age.
Many did not grow up with dating apps and the protocol for how to use them may not be intuitive. When you add divorce and custody fights into the mix they are even more problematic.
4 Tips to Consider When Using Dating Apps During Divorce:
Tip #1: Wait to date until your case is finalized.
The average length of a divorce case is 13 months. For cases that stretch over several years due to complex property or sensitive custody issues, waiting to date may not be as practical. If you decide to date, be cognizant of the impact it can have on your case and try to avoid common pitfalls.
- Don’t flaunt it. Be discreet. Divorces are emotional times. Even if both parties agree that this is the right step, the idea of their ex moving on first, having someone else living in their home, or cooking breakfast for their children, will cause new feelings to bubble to the surface. If the relationship has deteriorated significantly leading up to the divorce, then dating will likely only fuel the fire. This could lead to irrational decisions that prolong the divorce and cost more money.
- Don’t date your ex’s best friend, your coworker they always thought you flirted with, or your former flame. They will find out and the reaction won’t be pleasant.
- Separate your dating life from your life with your children. When you have possession of your children, use that as family time and when you do not, use that time to date. This will help you defend against any complaints that the person you are dating is a negative influence on your children or that you are not prioritizing your children.
- Don’t be petty. If your ex starts dating, treat them the way you would want to be treated. You will both move on eventually.
Tip #2: Don’t use dating apps.
Do not use these apps until the divorce is final and tensions have come down. These sites can be discoverable in your case and may have negative implications for your case and lead to questions such as: Where are you meeting people? Do they know where you live? Is it safe for the children to be in your home with this kind of activity? How often are you introducing children to new people? And on and on.
One of FamilyDocket’s resourceful lawyer-users accessed the dating app logs and cross-referenced them with credit card expenditures to prove the opposing party was spending significant sums of money on an active dating life that was depleting assets in the marriage.
Tip #3: If you decide to use a dating app, be mindful of your usage.
- Be honest in your profile. Honesty is always the best policy. A lawyer reported to me a case in which he represented the wife and she claimed emotional abuse and fear of her husband. When the lawyer found the husband’s online dating profile in which he listed his status as a widower, the lawyer made much ado about it in court. Obviously, the husband is using false pretenses to meet people, but is it more? Is this a threat? The wife got sole conservatorship of the children and a disproportionate share of the community estate. Without this bad fact, the lawyer said the case would have most likely resulted in joint managing conservatorship and significantly less assets coming to his client.
- Use an app not connected to other social media sites. Some apps will connect to you through Facebook or other social media sites, which can have their own negative implications for your case. Be careful what permissions you have and what can be seen. Some apps, like OKCupid, allow you to create an independent username and profile not connected to other social media.
Tip #4: Consider an app aimed at divorced people.
Once your case is resolved, you might consider an app designed for newly single, divorced people – there are a lot out there. This tip that has nothing to do with technology or potential legal ramifications of using a dating app. Someone who has been through a divorce themselves may be more likely to understand and accept your relationship status. They may be co-parenting themselves and less likely to be frustrated with communication between you and your ex.
Moving on after a divorce is important and dating may be part of that. Taking a long-term view may help you resist the urge to date before it is in your best interest.