The divorce process is an emotional time. Divorcing spouses may be uncertain about what’s expected of them, especially during the time period between the initial separation and the divorce hearing. Every divorce in Arizona takes time—including a mandatory 60-day waiting period—but complex, contested divorces can take months or even a year or more to finalize. Many divorcing spouses begin to move forward into new romantic relationships, either because they’ve met someone they have serious feelings about, or simply because dating is fun and helps lift the gloom of an emotionally fraught time. But is it acceptable to date other people during the divorce process?
There is no law in Arizona or in any other U.S. state that prohibits dating during divorce. You and your spouse may both seek other relationships or date for fun. In some cases, people divorce because one spouse has already become interested in someone else. Other individuals may meet someone they’re attracted to when they least expect it during the separation. But no matter the reason to consider dating during divorce, it’s important to speak to your Chandler family law attorney about how dating might impact any issues of contention. Although there are no laws against dating, that doesn’t mean that pursuing a new relationship won’t have repercussions on your case.
Arizona law requires a fair and equitable division of a couple’s marital assets during divorce. Arizona is a no-fault divorce state where spouses seek divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, not over adultery. No Arizona judge can decide unfairly against one spouse during the equitable division of assets because they were unfaithful during the marriage or separation; however, a spouse can argue for a larger portion of the assets in response to the other spouse’s dating if the dating spouse spends significant assets on their new romantic interest. Expensive trips, jewelry, and gifts given to a new partner can result in deductions from that spouse’s portion of the assets.
Courts in Arizona always make decisions in the best interests of the child. When a spouse introduces a third party into the mix, it can have an impact on whether or not they get custody or an equal share in the parenting time schedule. If the other parent can show that your children will spend significant time around your new partner, anything in that person’s history may work against you. Even if your new romantic interest has no negative history at all, your spouse could argue that it’s too soon to introduce children who are already distressed by the divorce to someone new. This means a judge could decide that giving you a large portion of the parenting time isn’t in the best interests of the children.
Because of the highly charged emotions during a separation and divorce in Arizona or elsewhere, it’s helpful to consider other potential impacts of dating during separation instead of waiting until after the finalization of the divorce. If there are hard feelings on one spouse’s side because the other moved on from the marriage too soon, it could cause them to act out by being more contentious on issues that they’d otherwise be able to come to an agreement on. A spouse who feels rancor over the divorcing spouse’s jump into a new relationship could choose to argue over issues of property separation, child custody, child support, and spousal support because of their hard feelings.