Whether or not you can date while getting a divorce is a very common question.
And we have a very lawyer-ly answer for you: It depends.
From our team of experienced Virginia divorce lawyers at Slovensky Law, here’s everything you need to know about whether to date during your divorce.
Thinking through whether dating during divorce is a good idea
Let’s look at a couple of reasons to pause before jumping back into the dating pool.
First of all, are you ready to date again?
That’s not for us to decide, but we do see people get back into dating before they are ready after a separation. Make sure you’re ready! And remember, you are not legally divorced until the papers are signed.
Second of all, how will it impact your case?
It can impact your case in two ways: charges of “adultery” and waste of marital assets.
Adultery is technically a crime in Virginia as of 2020 (but there are pushes to decriminalize it regularly), though it is ALMOST NEVER prosecuted. Adultery is actual sex (or sodomy which is non-intercourse sexual acts) with another person.
Although your divorce case is civil, it’s not a great thing to be accused of in the divorce. The judge can – though theyoften do not – hold you responsible for the breakdown of the marriage because of adultery and give you less of the marital estate.
It’s important to note: If you have been separated for over one year, it is no longer considered adultery, and you are free to “date” as much as you like – whether or not your divorce is finalized. Of course, if you were covertly “dating” during your separation period, your spouse may become suspicious if you openly date after one year is magically up, and they may start asking questions that point to adultery.
Mere dating does not automatically equal adultery, but it can complicate your divorce if your spouse suspects adultery and accuses you of it, and there’s a chance your case outcome could be adversely affected.
Another note: Adultery even after you are separated, but not for one year, if proven, can disqualify you from receiving spousal support. If you need spousal support, do not “date” at all during your separation period. Do not covertly date and then suddenly be in a relationship at one year, either! There are some workarounds to this harsh rule, but it’s better not to go there.
Another way adultery can hurt your case is if you spend marital resources on your paramour.
Also known as the dissipation of assets, the waste of marital waste is defined as the intentional depletion of marital assets by one spouse that would otherwise be split between the couple during divorce proceedings.
Virginia follows the “equitable distribution” method of property division, which means that instead of dividing everything in half, assets are divided fairly between the parties when taking into account the finances of the couple.
So if you’re spending all your money away on your new lover, your spouse can claim that you’re taking more than your fair share of the assets.
Here’s the best way to fix that: don’t do it. No fancy gifts, no fancy vacations!
It’s a bad look, and the court can take it out on you. This applies even after a year.
So … can you date during your Virginia divorce?
If you stay within the lines outlined above, you can feel comfortable dating during your divorce.
For more information about your specific situation, feel free to contact our team today.