You have gone through with the separation and want to move on with your life. For many, that may mean seeking out another partner. Yet, you have to stop and ask yourself, “Is it legal to date during separation?” After all, you are not technically divorced yet. If you plan on dating during your legal separation, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind, including your current marital status and family matters. Let’s take a look at what you have to know, so you can make the best choice for yourself and your family.
- Couples can "divorce from bed and board" through a settlement agreement, addressing property, alimony, and child custody.
- There is no legal prohibition against dating during separation, though it may impact divorce proceedings.
- Dating may hinder reconciliation and impact spousal support, child custody, and asset division.
- Avoid publicizing new relationships on social media.
About Legal Separation in New Jersey
If you have already entered a legal separation, this may come as no surprise to you. In New Jersey, there is no “legal separation,” only a formalized process where married couples can choose to “divorce from bed and board” by signing a settlement agreement. Legal separation does allow for property division, alimony, and child custody, but it opens the possibility of reconciliation instead of proceeding to complete divorce.
Separation may feel like divorce, but it is not. It bears repeating that you are still legally married in the state of New Jersey until a Judgement of Divorce is received. In other words, because dating during marriage is considered adultery, which is grounds for divorce, it also holds true when dating during separation.
Can You Legally Date While Separated?
There is no legal prohibition to dating while separated or even while married in New Jersey. However, this doesn’t mean you can do so without consequences. As mentioned earlier, dating during marriage (or legal separation) is technically adultery, and this may negatively impact divorce proceedings and any agreements.
What to Consider Before Dating During Separation
Dating can be precarious when you are separated from your spouse. Keep the following considerations in mind while making the decision on whether to date:
Recognize Potential Pitfalls
There are several pitfalls with dating during separation that you must understand. Firstly, dating could aggravate your spouse and make any chance of reconciliation impossible. This could disrupt the process of divorce and also impact spousal support, child custody, and the equitable division of assets.
Child custody is often impacted because the court may deem you dating as an unreasonable risk to the well-being of the children. Similarly, if you end up cohabitating with your new partner, you may be ineligible for alimony.
Dating may also be a breach of the separation agreement, especially if one of the conditions was that you and your spouse work on your marriage.
Talk to Your Spouse
If you truly want to date, make a point of speaking about it to your spouse. As mentioned previously, if you or your spouse had hope to fix the problems affecting your marriage, dating could add tension. Therefore, you must sit down and discuss the possibility of seeing other people. Not only does this keep you dating from being a surprise—and possibly building resentment—it also becomes a known fact and will not influence the court as much.
Also, if your spouse is open to the idea of dating during separation, consider amending your written agreement to contain this (if it doesn’t already). However, if your spouse is not amenable to the idea, it may be best to hold off dating until divorce proceedings are finalized.
What to Do When Dating During Legal Separation in NJ
In the event that you decide to date while separated in New Jersey, do the following:
As tempting as it is to post on social media how happy you are with your new partner, it is recommended that you remain discreet. Flaunting a new relationship can exacerbate tensions and negatively impact any future divorce negotiations.
Don’t Introduce a New Partner Right Away
Again, this may be tempting, but it could hurt your case. Introducing a new partner will be emotionally challenging for everyone involved, especially children. This may also hinder divorce proceedings by bringing up sour or jealous emotions in your spouse. Keep in mind that any upset could negatively impact you. Therefore, it is best to wait for introductions until your divorce is final. Even then, it is best to speak with your ex and set up an arranged meeting.
Contact a NJ Divorce Lawyer Today
Divorce is challenging. It can become more tricky when you want to bring a new partner into your life and start over. Yet, it is important to understand that, while dating during separation is not illegal, it is also not recommended unless you and your spouse agree upon it. If you have any questions about how dating may affect your separation or case, it is best to speak with an experienced NJ divorce attorney, like those at Ziegler Law Group, LLC. Our skilled team offers compassionate counsel and will advocate for a fair resolution. Get in touch with us today by calling 973-533-1100 or by filling out the contact form.
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