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What About Dating?

Does dating really have an effect on the divorce process?  You can probably conclude that it is not a good idea for several reasons.

First of all, let’s discuss the law.  Technically, it is illegal in Michigan to have an extramarital affair.  While no one is ever charged with this crime, it is still against the law and probably a bad idea.

Fault is still part of the divorce process - not in the way that it used to be, but it has not been completely removed.  It used to be that you had to prove fault to get divorced, which meant that if there was proof of adultery, abuse, or abandonment, you could get divorced.  You no longer need to prove fault to file for divorce, but it is still common to claim the spouse caused the divorce due to infidelity, abuse, etc. If nothing else, it can be an emotional issue even if it’s not much of a legal issue.

Dating any time before the divorce is complete is a bad choice for other reasons as well.  A divorce with minor children has a six month waiting period, and it’s only natural to want to begin moving on with your life.  A normal progression of ending this relationship for you may be to begin dating someone else.  However, if you have minor children, it’s not good for them to see you dating when you are still legally married to your wife.  It gives the wrong impression and is generally going to make your children and everyone around you uncomfortable and possibly resentful.

In fact, most divorce judges will enforce restrictions against paramours being around your children during the divorce case. Technically it is illegal, and some judges do not want it happening.

Another issue is how dating can affect the actual divorce process.  Over 95% of divorce cases settle, so the last thing you need is to negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement with your wife, who is angry because you are dating, or because of who you are dating.  Adding this level of betrayal and hurt during a divorce is likely going to make it more difficult to work out a fair settlement.

Divorce can in many ways be about healing and moving on with your life.  Making it harder for your wife during the divorce process by openly dating other people is only going to make things worse.  It usually creates resentment, jealousy and other bad feelings, which can only lead to more problems between you and your wife, and/or children.

Now, you might be in a marriage where you have not lived together for several years and are just now getting divorced.  That’s different, and in those circumstances dating is probably not a concern. 

We recognize there are exceptions, and it’s always a good idea to discuss these issues with your divorce attorney.  The divorce isn’t over until it’s completely over, and until you have a final, enforceable agreement, you want to avoid any behavior that’s going to make it more difficult to settle your divorce case. 

Our clients can do what they want, and of course they will.  However, after years of experience and interaction with other lawyers, other parties to the divorce, therapists, and also judges and court personnel, we would advise you against dating, during the divorce process.  We like to say that you should control the things you can control, because there are plenty of other variables that are out of our hands.  

About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men and practices a policy of integrity in all dealings.

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