You’re separated from your spouse and preparing for divorce or already going through it, and now you’re curious as to whether or not it’s safe for you to get back out into the dating game. Perhaps someone has crossed your path. There was a spark — what do you do?
It may be hard to walk away from a serendipitous moment, but dating while separated and divorcing could have the potential to cause more harm than good during these times.
If you’re wondering if dating will affect your divorce or cause your ex-spouse to get more from the divorce due to your dating life, you’ll want to keep reading. Let’s discuss the complications dating could have on your current separation.
Your Right to a Tennessee Divorce
Before we touch on dating, let’s briefly go over your right to a divorce in Tennessee.
Tennessee couples are allowed to get a divorce if the one filing states that they have irreconcilable differences and that they have been separated (living apart) for at least two years. The couple must also agree to:
- Child Support
- Custody of Children
- Property Division
If you cannot agree on the family issues, you will need to show that your divorce was based on inhumane treatment or adultery.
This is where dating while going through the divorce proceedings can get complicated, because if your ex-partner finds out, he or she may choose not to agree to the family issues above.
Is Dating While Separated Considered Misconduct?
In Tennessee, having a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse before the divorce is final, but after being separated — is considered adultery. Dating doesn’t necessarily mean sexual relationships, but it could and often does happen.
The state of Tennessee has 15 grounds for divorce, and two common among them are inappropriate marital conduct and adultery. The bottom line is — if you are dating someone and your spouse finds out, they can use this against you in the divorce.
What Happens to Division of Property if My Spouse Finds Out I’m Dating?
Typically, any marital misconduct should not affect your division of property. However, without an agreement from both parties, the property division would have to be litigated, which is often expensive.
Dating during this process could raise some red flags. For example, a judge may feel that you could have spent some of the marital assets on your new love interest and that purchase could now be a factor in property division.
How Will Dating Affect Alimony & Child Custody?
While it may not be misconduct in property division, it is misconduct in child custody and alimony payments.
If the reason you are filing for divorce is irreconcilable differences, then Tennessee Law § 36-5-121(i) controls the factors that the judge can consider when they decide to award you alimony, how much alimony shall be awarded, and how long you’ll receive alimony payments.
In Tennessee Code 36-6-106, 10 factors play when deciding any children’s physical and legal custody in the relationship. Dating during your legal proceedings is considered a factor in a few different ways.
For instance, if you are already currently dating, the court may ponder what the stability of the family unit in your home would be like. Who else will be in the house with the child? What will their interactions be like? All of these things will be heavily considered.
If you are dating someone, this could mean that the court will question your new partner too during your custody dispute.
The court also looks at both parents and their ability and willingness to maintain a healthy relationship with the children. While also encouraging a healthy relationship with their ex-partner.
However, if the child is at least 12 years of age, the court will also hear the child. The child will then get a chance to decide if they want to live with you or your spouse.
Even though dating while being separated is not illegal, it can impact your custody case. Your children’s input on the circumstances at either home will be brought into consideration, including who either spouse may also interact with, romantically or otherwise.
Work With a Tennessee Divorce Lawyer You Can Trust
If you’re considering divorce or legal separation, it’s important to have a knowledgeable family law attorney on your side. Attorney Hunter Fowler has the experience and knowledge to provide the best legal counsel possible and help you navigate the complicated divorce and legal separation processes. He will fight for your rights and help you keep what is most important to you safe.