Divorcing couples often ask about dating – whether they can date and how it will look to a judge. A divorce can go on for a year or more, so the issue arises in many divorces not just those involving spouses who initiated a divorce because they met someone else. The reality is dating is allowed, but there are a few pitfalls that the parties should understand if they want to date while divorcing.
- Cohabitation claim. Under New Jersey law, one of the circumstances which can suspend or terminate the obligation to pay alimony is if the recipient spouse cohabits with another person. This also applies while the divorce is pending. Cohabitation is defined as “… a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.” Courts look at a number of factors to determine whether the requirements are met, such as intertwined finances, frequency of contacts, duration of the relationship and other evidence. If you are found to be cohabiting with another person, you could lose your temporary spousal support during divorce.
- Parenting time. It is not unusual for a parent to object to the children meeting someone the other parent is dating. This is true whether the parent is living with a new partner or they maintain separate residences. As a result, that parent may object to the other parent having any parenting time which would involve the girlfriend/boyfriend. A judge may agree and provide that the dating parent must make appropriate arrangements to ensure the child does not spend time with the girlfriend/boyfriend or else lose the parenting time. However, this is not automatic. The judge will weigh the circumstances, including looking at whether the dating relationship is long-lasting and meaningful. In addition, the age of the children is relevant since introducing a new romantic partner can be very stressful and confusing, especially when children are young. The court will not want to adversely affect the children’s relationship with either of their parents and as a result, may prohibit contact with a new girlfriend/boyfriend.
Although dating while divorcing is permissible, it is a good idea to discuss your situation with your attorney to minimize the risks to your case.
If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss your situation.