What Does Texas Law Say About Dating While Getting a Divorce?
Dating while getting a divorce in Texas can complicate the situation further than expected. While it is a “mixed state” where you can get divorced on fault or no-fault grounds, Texas frowns on dating during a divorce. If you start having sexual relations with someone other than your spouse while the divorce is pending, you may face consequences for adultery.
Your new relationship could affect property distribution and spousal support. Similarly, if you seek alimony during the divorce, the court may consider adultery before the final ruling. A reputable family law attorney in San Antonio can take you through the impact of dating during a divorce in Texas and what you should do.
Is Dating During a Divorce Considered Adultery?
Adultery can be one of the fault-based grounds you can use to file for divorce in Texas. The courts can consider dating while going through a divorce as adultery, even if you’re separated or living apart. Just because you’re in the process of getting divorced doesn’t mean you’re no longer married to your spouse. While divorce is pending, you are not “single.”
The law considers you a married person until you’re issued the final divorce decree. Having a sexual relationship with someone other than your spouse is defined as adultery, which could be different from having a casual dinner or messaging someone on a dating site.
However, keep in mind that Texas judges have a great amount of discretion in deciding what is a fair division of community property and what is in the best interests of the children. If a judge is not pleased with your attempts to date, even though it may not technically be adultery because there has been no sex or perhaps you listed yourself on a dating site but didn’t actually date anyone, yet it may cause the judge to rule against you on many discretionary issues because it may cause the judge to think that you are at fault for the breakup of the marriage. Most importantly, introducing a new boyfriend or girlfriend to your children while you are still married could cause great confusion and emotional trauma to your children even if there is no actual sexual relationship.
If you’re in a new relationship while your divorce is pending and unsure if it could affect the case outcome, consult a skilled San Antonio divorce lawyer. They can provide legal counsel to help you make the most favorable decision with the least adverse effects on your divorce.
Generally, here are the various reasons why you should avoid dating while your divorce is pending:
Impact of Adultery on Divorce
Alimony and property division are more likely to be affected by dating during a divorce than child custody matters, but it can affect child custody as well. Texas has strict laws determining how spousal support and marital property are awarded and those laws give the trial judge much discretion in the division of property. For example, a court may award more property to one spouse than the other one who committed adultery.
In matters of alimony or spousal maintenance, adultery directly impacts the monetary amount awarded. If the party on the receiving end of the financial payments is the party who commits adultery, that may reduce alimony or it may even be cause to deny it altogether. If your divorce has been impacted by infidelity by either you or your spouse, consult an experienced divorce lawyer in San Antonio for legal assistance for a favorable outcome.
Adultery Could Escalate Conflict
Adultery can cause conflict between the divorcing parties, leading to a lengthy and complicated divorce process. Dating other people may tend to create an emotional response from your spouse which could hinder any attempts at settlement or compromise. Due to the heated arguments that arise, it can take time to reach a resolution and settle the case on favorable terms for both parties.
Adultery interferes with the chances of amicably concluding the case in the shortest time possible, and sometimes even leads to domestic violence. At the least, it may cause accusations of wasting community assets due to spending money dating the new girlfriend or boyfriend, and lead to long searches through financial records to prove the financial waste.
With increased conflict comes increased costs. As the case drags on, each party pays more to resolve the matters. The number of contested issues can increase, making the matter more expensive. You can avoid such complications by keeping off a new relationship until after finalizing the divorce.
Dating During Divorce Can Jeopardize Your Parenting Time
Maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship with your spouse is crucial for your children’s well-being. Your custody and parenting time rights could be adversely affected if your spouse can prove that your dating life is severely affecting your children’s best interests. Abandoning your children to go on a date could also work against you and affect the case outcome.
Besides, dating can impact your children’s emotional health. Even without dating during a divorce, it can be challenging to ensure you spend enough time with your children, given the emotional turmoil of the process. Spending more time with a new partner than with your children can hurt them emotionally and stress them out. Your children need extra attention during this time when they feel insecure and everything is changing. By dating someone new, your children may feel that they (the children) are not important to you.
Emotional Reasons Not to Date During Divorce
Getting into a new relationship while your divorce is pending can cloud your judgment. The thrill of being in a new relationship can make you feel good about yourself, but it only makes you avoid the pain of the divorce, which is not psychologically healthy. Sooner or later, you must experience and deal with those negative emotions and forge a way to move on with your life.
A new relationship comes with emotional issues that you may not be able to handle yet. Statistics show that couples in second marriages are even more likely to divorce the second spouse than the first. Combined with the pain of breaking up with your spouse, you may not be in the right mind to make the right decisions concerning divorce issues. Often that third party girlfriend or boyfriend may tend to influence your decisions in a way to cause more division and strife with your spouse. That’s why divorce attorneys in San Antonio recommend waiting until your divorce is finalized to start dating.
To Date or Not to Date During a Divorce?
It’s highly recommended to avoid getting into a new sexual relationship with a different person while your divorce is still pending. Even a non-sexual relationship with a person who is perceived as a romantic interest can cause havoc with the divorce process. If you must socialize, do so in a group and avoid introducing new friends to your children until the divorce is settled and both sides have signed all the papers. Whatever you do, do not bring a date to court with you for a contested hearing.
A Skilled Divorce Lawyer Helping You Navigate the Divorce Process
Going through a divorce is challenging and emotionally draining. Since you’re not on good terms with your spouse, you may think that getting into a new relationship is the best way to cope with the loss. Sometimes a person who finds out that their spouse has cheated feels justified in seeking their own new partner as a means of revenge, which is not a good strategy for impressing a judge.
As a general rule, dating while your divorce is pending may complicate matters further, make the process longer and more costly, and even cause the judge in the divorce process to perceive you as the party who should be punished.
It’s best to consult a skilled San Antonio divorce attorney on matters surrounding your divorce. They can help you make the right decisions concerning all issues that affect the process, including decisions that will give you the best possible presentation in court. Laura D. Heard Law Firm Inc. is a family law and estate planning law firm with lawyers to walk with you during this challenging time until your divorce is complete. Call us at (210) 775-0353 for a consultation.