In many cases, marriages are over long before spouses even begin talking about getting a divorce. Still, even if your marriage is basically over, if you’re legally married, it’s generally not a good idea to pursue romance with anyone other than your spouse. But what about once you’ve filed for divorce? Or immediately after your divorce is finalized? Is that too soon to start dating again? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s complicated. Let us explain.
Can I Date Before My Divorce Is Final?
Legally, if you aren’t divorced, dating someone else other than your current spouse is not a great idea, and here are some reasons why:
- Optics – In some instances, judges can develop a poor opinion of people who are dating someone new during a divorce. Getting on the judge’s bad side is obviously not a good idea.
- Civil Lawsuits – In some states, dating someone else before you have divorced your current spouse can be cause for a civil lawsuit. This means that your soon-to-be ex-spouse might be able to sue the person you’re dating for monetary damages for negatively impacting your marriage to the degree that it led to a divorce.
- Child Custody – Dating someone else before your divorce is final can also impact the court’s decisions regarding child custody, visitation, and child support, especially if it’s determined that the person you’re dating could endanger or be a negative influence on your children.
- Timing – Depending on certain factors, divorces can drag on for a long time. The longer the divorce drags on, the greater the chance that the relationship between you and the person you’re dating could progress, which could negatively affect your divorce. For instance, if you and your new spouse move in together before your and your old spouse’s divorce is final, it could cost you spousal support or hurt your chances of getting custody of your kids.
How Long Should I Wait Before Dating Again After a Divorce?
While dating before a divorce is finalized is often a bad idea, dating after a divorce is final is not only okay, but also to be expected. However, just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should. In the wake a divorce, it might be fine for some people to immediately get back out there, but for others, they simply may not be ready for a variety of reasons, including:
- Kids – While choosing when to date again should be your decision alone, if you’re a parent, it’s a choice that doesn’t just impact your life. Divorce is hard on children. It will be difficult for them to adjust to the reality of you and your ex-spouse no longer being together. So, for their sake, it may be best to wait a little while after your divorce before you start dating. Give them time to adjust to one new normal before introducing them to another.
- Finances – If you’re paying or receiving spousal support, you will be facing a new financial outlook that will take some getting used to. Maybe you will have to work longer hours to afford to pay alimony. Or if you’re receiving spousal maintenance, you could be itching to rejoin the workforce after a long absence and just need the help of alimony to hold you over until you can reestablish your career. Either way, it may be difficult to juggle your work life and personal life during this period. If that’s the case, it might be better to wait until you’re in position to have a healthy work-life balance before dating again.
- Mental and Emotional Scars – Divorces can be extremely emotional and mentally taxing. It’s the end of a relationship that you thought would last the rest of your life. This is a person you loved and maybe still love (or who you now hate with a passion). You built a life with this person. You have/had relationships with each other’s friends and family. You may even share children (or at least a dog or cat) with this person. You’re going to need time to grieve this relationship and get to know yourself again as a single person before you’re ready to start all over again with someone new.
Tips for Dating After a Divorce
So, your divorce is final, and you feel like you’re ready to date again. Now what? How do you do this again? What’s Tinder? Can we even meet in person nowadays or only via Zoom? Depending on how long you’ve been married, a lot may have changed since you were last on the dating scene. Here are a few tips for dating after a divorce:
- Know why you’re dating again – Are you doing this to spite your ex? Are you trying to avoid doing the serious work necessary to heal from the end of your marriage? If you’ve dealt with the emotional and mental fallout from your divorce and you’re ready to be open and vulnerable with someone new, you’re probably ready to date again. However, just being ready to date again isn’t enough. Do you want to go on dates, or do you just feel like you’re “supposed to” because you’ve been divorced for certain amount of time? If you’re ready and you want to date again, you probably should. Otherwise, you can give it more time.
- Don’t take things too seriously at first – It’s just a date. Especially when you first begin dating again, keep in mind that it’s just a date. You’re probably not going to marry this person or even date them long-term. Try to have fun and try not to compare your date to your ex and/or overanalyze the situation. Instead, use first dates and your early days after rejoining the dating pool as an opportunity to learn about yourself and what you want and don’t want out of a relationship.
- Take it slow – If you start a new relationship after your divorce, take time to get to know the person well before introducing them to your family and friends, and especially your kids. You don’t want to introduce someone to your family and friends only to find out they were never interested in committing long-term. Protecting your children is your top priority and allowing them to become attached to someone new only to see that person walk away could be emotionally devastating for them, especially if it happens repeatedly.
- Don’t lie to yourself or them – Be honest about your past, your present, and what you want in the future with yourself and those you’re dating.
- Know what you’re looking for and what you don’t want – Think about what went wrong in your previous relationships. What did you dislike about your exes? How could you have been a better partner? Figure out what you can do to avoid experiencing those same issues in future relationships before dating again.
- Do your research – Before you dip your toes into the dating pool, know what you’re getting yourself into. Dating has probably changed a lot since you were last out there. Learn about the latest dating trends and technologies, and how to protect yourself physically and emotionally in the bedroom, online, and out in public.
Ultimately, before you decide to date again, you should discuss the situation with friends and family, and maybe even a therapist, to make sure you’re mentally and emotionally ready to take that step. In addition, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney about the legal implications of dating during or after a divorce.
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation with Our Experienced Divorce Attorney Today
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our top priorities are protecting our clients and fighting to win. While in most cases, we focus on reaching an amicable outcome, in every case, we are prepared to go to trial if necessary. Attorney Derek Ritchie works directly with clients through every step of the divorce process, including answering their questions, helping them avoid legal pitfalls, and providing them with the keys to a brighter future. Check out our client reviews to learn more about our firm and how we treat our clients.
If you have questions about dating and divorce or any other family law issue, give us a call at (210) 775-2000 or fill out our online contact form to set up a complimentary consultation where you can review your case with our experienced divorce lawyer.