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Can I Date Before My Divorce is Finalized?

30 May 2023 12:28 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

By Lynne Strober, Esq.

A common question that matrimonial attorneys get asked is whether our client can date before the divorce is final. Many times, by the time a client comes to us, they have lacked the physical or emotional connection with their partner for a long time. Sometimes, they have been ready to move on for quite some time. You can date before your divorce is final, but you do so at your own risk. It is best to follow some caveats:

1. Don’t cohabit, particularly in New Jersey. In New Jersey, cohabitation isn’t just living together. In fact, the law specifically allows a Court to find that a couple is cohabiting even when there isn’t one common household. The reason cohabitation should be avoided is that you may not receive alimony if you are cohabiting.

2. Be careful how your child or children learn about your dating life. Avoid posting on social media, leaving love notes, cards, or other trinkets around for your children to find. Delay introducing the children until after the divorce is final and only if your relationship is serious. Don’t discuss your dating life or new relationships with or in front of the children. This has caused a problem for more than one litigant in a custody case.

3. Continue to make sure your children, if you have any, are your top priority. Plan your dates when your children are with your spouse if possible.

4. You should pay your own way on your dates. While being taken out to dinner should not be an issue, if you and your new partner are traveling or going away for the weekend, you should each pay for yourself so that you cannot be accused of using marital funds for a third party or of being financially supported by a third party if you are seeking alimony from your spouse.

5. One of factors that a Court will assess to determine whether you are cohabiting and therefore, not going to receive alimony, is whether you and your new partner have a financial intertwinement. Therefore, you should not set up any joint accounts, regardless of whether it is a bank, investment, savings, credit card, or any other accounts.

6. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It is a great way to keep in touch, share pictures with friends and family, network with colleagues and let people know about your accomplishments, but it also can be used against you. It is best to take a social media hiatus while you are getting divorced. However, if you do not want to completely shut down your social media, do not post about your dating life or new partner.

7. It is best not to have your new partner come to the house that you own with your spouse or that your children are living in until you have finalized your divorce. Additionally, a significant relationship can be viewed as cohabitation under certain circumstances, so you want to be careful about how you portray the relationship and what obligations, rights and responsibilities you and your new partner have to each other.

8. If you aren’t sure how to handle a dating question or situation, ask your attorney. It is not easy to go through a divorce. It is also not always easy to start dating again during or after a divorce, but it can still be fun if you make sure to do it right!

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