One of the things that is most difficult to prepare for after a divorce is figuring out how to lead a balanced life. Much of a divorce case is spent struggling to figure out the odds and ends of a case such that you spend so much energy just trying to make sense of who you are and what your place in the world is now that you have gone through a divorce. Whether you like it or not, your life will change because of the divorce. However, it is up to you how you approach your days and how you structure your life now that the divorce has come to an end.
One of the most common questions that we receive here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan when it comes to romantic relationships after and even during a divorce is how to approach this subject from the perspective of your case. It is not easy to strike that delicate balance between doing what feels good in the moment and doing what is right for your case and your family on a long-term basis. To be sure, many people have made mistakes when it comes to their divorce case as it pertains to dating and engaging in romantic relationships.
This is also a difficult position for an attorney to put themselves in. There is a fine line between providing advice to a paying client and then giving unsolicited advice about a personal subject matter like dating or long-term relationships. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan always strive to be honest with our clients and to give advice and perspective that is relevant to your case and impactful for your life. We are cognizant of the fact that what works well for one person may not work well for another when it comes to personal subjects like romantic relationships after a divorce. However, we can begin looking at this subject from the practical side of things when it comes to dating during the divorce case itself.
Should you date during a divorce?
To date or not to date, that is the question. One of the many curious aspects of the divorce process is that even though a person in your shoes may be longing to end a long-term committed relationship, you may also be very interested in beginning another long-term, committed relationship. Such is the nature of a human being. We are creatures of contrast it has been said. As a result, you may want to start a long-term relationship as soon as your divorce is through if not sooner. The question that you need to ask yourself is whether this is a wise decision to make.
You can look at the question of whether to date during a divorce from a lot of different angles. To start with, you may, frankly speaking, be lonely right now. Even though your marriage is not going to last much longer you still have a relationship with that other person. He or she avoided your life and played an important role for better or worse over many years. With that said, divorce may have become necessary over time, but it is not necessarily welcome from an emotional perspective. Going through a divorce has been likened to having a family member pass away. Even if you are not in love with your spouse any longer or even happy being married to him or her there is still going to be a lot of change that your life undergoes because of the divorce. That change is the death of your prior life and the beginning of a new life.
Therefore, it is understandable that you may want to begin dating sooner rather than later especially if you are feeling harmed from an emotional perspective because of the divorce. You should be careful about your romantic decisions during the divorce. To that point, it is usually never advisable for you to date during your divorce. There is simply too much at stake in the case and your attention is needed when it comes to the details of your divorce rather than beginning a committed relationship. That’s not to say that it isn’t understandable why you want to start dating again. However, when we walk through the factors associated with the divorce as to why dating is not necessarily advisable then you can see exactly why we would recommend against beginning this type of relationship so soon.
We have already talked about how keeping your attention on the divorce is critical. This is not to say that the only thing you should think about during your divorce case is the divorce. The rest of your life will march on with all the important parts like your family, your job, your health, and everything else included. If all you do is focus on your divorce case, then you will find that there are many negative aspects to doing so. You cannot afford to let the rest of your life spiral out of control so that you can pay an inordinate amount of attention to your divorce.
However, as we focus on your divorce you do need to pay a certain amount of attention to the case. For example, at the very beginning of your divorce case, you will be asked by your attorney to organize your community estate. This just means an inventory of your property needs to be taken. Once that is complete, you can begin to appraise or estimate the value of your community property assets. After that, you can begin to devise a way to divide up that property. From there, you and your spouse can negotiate through these issues and determine the best possible way to divide this community property.
The only way to approach a complex subject like this is to devote a fair amount of attention to it. This will be one of those times when your attorney may assign you a type of homework for you to do in your free time at home. This will reduce the amount of work and the costs for your attorney then we’ll allow you to have a stronger base of knowledge when it comes to your life. By thinking through these issues yourself and not relying upon your attorney to do so, you will be better equipped to make decisions in your case and will be more content with the outcome of your case whatever it is.
It would be very difficult to be able to devote the type of attention you need to this subject if you are dating during your divorce. There is nothing wrong with maintaining existing relationships during the divorce but taking your attention from those existing relationships and your case and placing it onto what amounts to an optional relationship does not make sense in the present or the future. Rather, when you have work that needs to be done on your divorce it needs to be top of mind. Hopefully, you have been using your time judiciously and wisely. It is hard to say that a romantic relationship with someone during your divorce is the most effective use of your time.
Nobody’s saying that you will never be able to date once you get through your divorce. Also, nobody is saying that dating during the divorce is the worst thing you could ever do. However, it certainly diverts attention away from other important areas of your life in favor of a relationship that is not by definition necessary currently. Additionally, you need to keep in mind that even though a divorce has been filed in your case you are still legally married to your spouse. As a result, you should be aware that dating during your divorce in the eyes of many family court judges constitutes adulterous behavior. As a result, this type of action could be used to justify a judge awarding A disproportionate share of your community property to your spouse in the divorce. Any amount of money that you spend on your significant other, like gifts, short trips, or meals at restaurants can be used against you. Since it is community property that you are using you need to be especially careful about your actions during the divorce.
Finally, there are negative aspects to dating during a divorce from the perspective of your minor children, as well. Parents in a divorce are jockeying for conservatorship rights and time with their children. When you are trying to manage your divorce one of the most critical parts of the case will be figuring out how to maintain as much time with your children as possible while being able to act as a parent who has significant decision-making abilities in the most important areas of your child’s life.
When you date someone during your divorce it can be argued that this shows bad judgment. A parent who shows bad judgment in their personal lives could be expected to show bad judgment in their parenting life. If your children come into contact with your significant other during the divorce this could be especially bad for your case. You need to be careful about how you approach this subject and whether you can avoid making your mistakes when it comes to your child’s relationship with this other person. In our culture, stepparents are a reality for many families. However, putting your child in a position where he or she needs to come to grips with these types of major changes during the divorce itself is asking a lot of him or her. Rather, you should wait until the divorce is over to begin introducing your children to your significant other.
How to approach dating after a divorce
Even though your divorce may have come to an end, that does not mean that there are no responsibilities on your end as far as paying attention to how you approach the subject of long-term relationships and relationships with members of the opposite sex after your divorce. Getting married changes the rules to a great extent but for those of you who are just starting back on the dating scene after your divorce, there are some details that you should be aware of that can affect how you begin to introduce your children to your significant other.
The most significant rule after your divorce when it comes to your family and relationships was probably in place during the divorce itself. Namely, many court orders prohibit you from having a member of the opposite sex in your home from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM on nights when your children are also present. Of course, this rule can be harder to enforce than it is to simply list in a child custody order. However, you are technically in violation of the order if you invite your significant other over to spend the night on the night where your children are present. All it would take is for your children to mention to your ex-spouse that they had a guest over at your home that caused an enforcement case to be filed.
You can avoid this type of situation by having common sense and clear-cut boundaries with your significant other before the time comes to have a potential overnight stay with the kids around. This does not mean that you cannot have a dating life or that your significant other can never stay with you at your home. However, what it does mean is that you need to be strategic about how you approach the subject of dating after the divorce. You can date but do so within reason and with an understanding that your child and their relationship with you comes first period if you respect the boundaries of your children and understand that your children and their needs come first then you should not encounter any problems dating after your divorce comes to an end.
To close out today’s blog post, we can talk more about selecting someone to become involved with on a romantic level after your divorce. Our attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are not dating experts or matchmakers. We don’t know you on a personal level. Therefore, it would be irresponsible and downright pointless to try to give you dating advice of any kind. However, with all that said it may make sense for you to begin slowly when it comes to approaching your post-divorce relationships. For one, you may have been hurt more in the divorce than you give yourself credit for. The reality is that a divorce can be tougher on you emotionally than you give yourself credit for. Subjecting yourselves to a dating relationship when you are not quite ready could be difficult. As a result, keeping your relationships casual could make a lot of sense for you.
Next, you can consider the type of person that you are going to be interested in starting a relationship with. If you are coming out of a divorce with children, then finding a dating partner who may be divorced themselves and have children could make a lot of sense. These are people who understand what you are going through and will be more able to readily accept the limitations that you put on the relationship as far as your time and access is concerned. To a person who has never been through a divorce, it may be difficult to understand why he or she cannot spend the night at your home immediately after the case is over. However, a person who has been through a divorce can understand that you have minor children and there are boundaries there that need to be respected.
Once you begin to date and find yourself in a more serious relationship, attending marriage and family therapy from the beginning of your relationship could make a great deal of sense. You can even look at these counseling sessions as pre-marriage counseling or therapy. You can learn how to talk about difficult subjects like money, family, children and even religion. Studies show that couples who are in alignment on these subjects tend to remain married for much longer than couples who are out of alignment on these subjects. Learning how to communicate better is just another positive attribute that comes with attending pre-marriage counseling. Think about how your marriage to your ex-spouse could have benefited had the two of you attended this type of counseling.
The bottom line is that if you respect boundaries, are diligent in communication, and put your minor children first after a divorce, dating, and marriage can fall right into place along with the rest of your post-divorce life.
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