Dating During a Fulton Divorce Is Legal, But Potentially Risky

Every relationship — and subsequently, every divorce — is different. We all have unique life experiences and the bonds we form with those around us can be the most unique of all. For some people, divorcing is a grief-stricken, painful process of separation as a final resort, and they couldn’t even consider starting a new relationship during this time. For others, it’s just an end — an end that doesn’t necessarily need to be finalized before finding a new beginning.

Ariana Grande has made a bit of a name for herself for dating a wide array of different men over the years (and good for her!) but she’s been in a committed marriage for the past two. Now, as that marriage reaches its natural (and reportedly amicable) end, she’s back in the headlines for dating a costar despite the divorce still in progress. Whatever your personal opinions on this are, it’s true that it’s not illegal (well, ok, adultery is a crime in Maryland subject to a $10 fine) for her to do.

That being said, though, dating while a divorce is in progress DOES run the risk of causing extra complications in the proceedings. Especially for those with a high number of assets and/or minor children, you may want to think twice before getting involved in a new relationship before the divorce is finalized.

New relationships can cause new stressors

Even without a divorce in progress, new relationships take a lot of work and can be a lot of stress. Not only are you getting to know someone, you’re also allowing yourself to be known in return. That vulnerability, alongside meeting each other’s families and friends, can take a lot out of anyone.

When you’re still separating from someone else, you have all those stressors and more. What if you’re ready to date someone new, but your ex isn’t? What if they had harbored hope about fixing things with you? What if they’re just irrationally jealous and upset? If you have children involved, you also must think about how introducing a new person will affect them, and how your ex may use that information during your custody battle, and whether it’s developmentally appropriate for your children to meet a new romantic interest in the throes of divorce. For those who plan to have a truly collaborative divorce, especially if you intend to use a mediator to avoid court, you want to make sure you avoid possible points of drama wherever possible.

Additionally, even if you don’t feel your ex will mind, your children very likely will. They are going through an intense, traumatic transitional period right now and may perceive your new lover as a dismissal of the severity of the situation (to them and in general) and an attempt at replacing their other parent.

For LGBTQIA+ couples and their children, your divorce could already come with more complications than others, especially for couples where one parent chose not to move forward with a second parent adoption, or whose coparent may be looking to relocate with a new partner to a state where your rights are under attack. Holding off on introducing anyone new until the divorce is finalized can only help everyone involved.

Certain aspects of your Fulton divorce may be affected by a new beau

Right now, in Maryland, you can file for divorce on a number of grounds. There are no-fault divorces, which are typically the most amicable, used when neither party has any grievances beyond just not wanting to be married anymore. If those aren’t possible, you may file under separation, adultery, desertion, cruelty, mutual consent (slightly different from no-fault), and more. However, come October of this year, you will only be able to file under mutual consent or irreconcilable differences. This will make divorcing quicker (and you may still cite the other grounds as reasons for filing) but part of this new law eliminates Maryland’s limited divorce, which was a way for couples to stay legally married but be separated otherwise.

Not only could that affect certain things like healthcare and retirement funds, but it means people will be forced to choose an absolute divorce if they want one at all. If you have a new relationship your ex may file under irreconcilable differences and force the two of you into a lengthy legal fight. Ideally, a separation agreement is already in place to protect you from much of this, but if it isn’t — or if it isn’t good enough — you could find yourself with a whole new world of problems.

For those who know their divorce will be a high-conflict event, you should operate under the assumption that your ex will be trying to make everything as difficult as possible. If you have more money than the average person (or are dating someone in that situation), they may come after you for ridiculous amounts of alimony or refuse to pay you yours. Alimony is decided on a case-by-case basis after considering a wide array of factors, very much including your current financial status, and is a very common point of contention between a divorcing couple.

If you have minor children involved, you must also remember that their preferences factor into the court’s custody agreement. If your child doesn’t like that you’re dating someone else, they may advocate for your ex to get custody. It won’t be the deciding point but it does carry more weight than people realize. Or, perhaps your child is fine with you dating, but your ex uses your new relationship as “proof” of your inability to safely raise them (or as proof you should be paying more in child support if custody is already lost).

All of this sounds scary — and it absolutely is and can be — but the point to remember is to simply be aware of your situation. You have to move on at some point and divorces infamously take a long time to finalize, but you may want to keep your divorce lawyer very much in the loop if you do choose to date.

How to safely date during a divorce

It is more than possible to have a successful new relationship and a successful divorce at the same time, as long as you’ve taken certain precautions to minimize the risk of drama and other complications. If you meet someone, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t date before you’ve physically separated, as the judge may count it as adultery and award more assets to your ex. (Don’t be misled – it’s still adultery even if it happens after you are separated, it just might be easier to excuse.)
  • Take every precaution and more to avoid pregnancy, either your own or your new partner’s. More custody concerns are the last thing you need.
  • Socialize in groups and take things as slowly as possible, regardless of that initial “spark.”
  • Make sure to put your children’s feelings first. Talk to them about how they feel, and how you feel. Don’t introduce your new partner too quickly, and make sure they don’t see anything you wouldn’t want a judge to know about. Consider talking to a child development expert if you are considering dating before divorcing, especially if that person will be introduced to your children.
  • Be completely honest with anyone new about your situation. The last thing you want is an ex-versus-next fight amidst a court battle.

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your assets during a divorce is to get an experienced Fulton family law attorney as quickly as possible. You don’t even have to wait until you officially file. When you have that legal representation on your side, they can help you with everything from custody to the divorce itself to modifications, protections, and everything in between. Even if you and your ex are on the same side and plan to divorce amicably, planning with a divorce attorney together can still make all the difference and alleviate a lot of trouble.

Here in Maryland, divorcing couples in any situation can trust the family law and divorce attorneys at McCabe Russell, PA to protect them and their loved ones. We know how to help every step of the way and take your assets and quality of life as seriously as you do. With offices in Fulton, Bethesda, Rockville, and Columbia, we’re always here when and where you need us. Call today or use our contact form to learn more about what we can do for you. Proudly serving Howard and Montgomery Counties.