Divorces can drag on for an uncomfortably long time. If proceedings stall, it can be difficult to get through alone. Men and women both face the temptation to date before they are officially divorced, even though this can lead to potential problems with the ex-spouse. There are positives, such as companionship during what is often a trying time, but the social and financial negatives tend to outweigh them. Most family law attorneys will advise you to wait before beginning a new relationship.
Spouse and Child-Related Issues
Regardless of your actual intentions, it can seem like a slap in the face to your ex-spouse if you cannot wait to date a new person until after the divorce is concluded. While in theory, it has ceased to be your spouse’s concern, in practice, a jealous or bitter ex-spouse can drag out proceedings, costing you significant time and money lost in attorneys’ fees and court appearances. There are limits as to what can be done without facing potential sanctions, but it is very possible for a divorce to drag on exclusively due to one party’s lack of cooperation.
The effects can also be felt on children, especially if your new partner is very different from your former spouse. Child psychologists emphasize routines for children during divorce, particularly younger children, and seeing their parent with someone new can be upsetting for many children. Depending on the nature of the relationship, it may even provoke a response from your ex-spouse if your children experience adverse reactions. It is extremely plausible that your parenting time or the amount of parental responsibility you are granted can be affected by introducing a new person into your children’s lives, especially if that person presents potential issues that might make the children unsafe, such as past criminal convictions on their record.
Depending on the status of the proceedings at any point, one legal issue that may appear has to do with spousal support. If you are receiving spousal support, but begin to cohabitate with another person, Illinois law permits that maintenance payments be stopped upon a showing of proper evidence. The rationale is that since you are living with someone else, you do not require money from your former spouse. However, your former spouse must be able to prove that you have a “de facto spousal relationship” with the person in question.
For better or worse, it can be difficult to pin down what exactly constitutes a de facto spousal relationship, and it will differ in each case. Generally, however, it can be held that this relationship exists when your life and the other person’s are sufficiently intertwined. It need not be a sexual relationship, but if you live together, both contribute toward bills, or have joint accounts together, or do special things like taking vacations together, these factors can contribute to your relationship qualifying as cohabitation.
Seek Experienced Legal Assistance
Many of the issues raised by dating during divorce proceedings can be avoided by simply choosing to wait, but if you do pursue a relationship to a potentially negative outcome, a knowledgeable attorney can help answer any questions about the road ahead. The St. Charles divorce attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. can guide you through the divorce process and do our best to work out a compromise that will benefit everyone involved. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-377-7770 today.