There are no legal guidelines in North Carolina that specify how long you should be separated from your spouse before you begin dating. Some people may feel lonely and want to start dating soon after separation while others have difficulty accepting that their marriage is over or otherwise have no interest in getting involved in a new romantic relationship.
Before you post your profile on an Internet dating website or become involved in a new relationship, you should talk to your family law attorney about the possible impact that dating might have on your divorce case. There are many reasons your attorney may recommend that you delay dating until all matters related to your separation and divorce of been resolved, including the following:
- You need time to recover emotionally and process the breakup of your marriage. Understanding why your marriage failed can be crucial to helping you avoid finding yourself in another relationship with a similar outcome.
- Becoming involved in a new romantic relationship before the issues related to your divorce have been resolved may cause hurt, anger, and/or jealousy on the part of your estranged spouse. This could lead to more conflict and animosity which may make it more difficult to settle your divorce related issues in an amicable manner.
- Divorce can be scary and confusing for children. Introducing your child to the person you are dating too soon after separation may cause your child more confusion and anxiety. Moreover, your dating relationship may affect your claim for child custody or visitation to the extent that the relationship has an impact on your child. Any person who has regular contact with your child may be subjected to scrutiny and called on to testify in court or deposition and your custody related matters.
- The person that you are dating may be subpoenaed to testify at court or in a deposition in connection with other divorce related matters since issues such as when you began dating, monies and gifts that you have given to or received from each other, and trips that you have taken together may be relevant to such matters as spousal support, child support, adultery, and/or financial misconduct.
- Your conduct after separation may become relevant to your divorce proceedings to the extent that it may be used to substantiate marital misconduct that occurred during the marriage.
Any issue (including dating) that adds more complexity or conflict to your divorce proceedings will likely increase your legal expenses.
Dating before the issues related to your divorce have been resolved can potentially make your divorce more complicated and negatively impact your case from a legal perspective. Much of the impact may depend on the legal issues at stake in your case. Before you begin dating, we recommend that you discuss the matter with your family law attorney to make sure that you understand any possible repercussions.