While some people decide to stay single long after a marriage ends, others feel ready to begin dating the day they file for divorce. Everyone moves on from a breakup at their own pace. The timing of romance might not be convenient if your divorce is pending, but the heart doesn't always care about convenience.
Those who are dating during the divorce or separation period should know what could be at stake. To some extent, casual dating outside of the home might have a minimal impact. However, if dating becomes more entwined in your life, there may be special considerations to make.
Do affair allegations matter?
Even if you found a new partner after separating or filing for divorce, your spouse may accuse you of infidelity. In North Carolina, adultery can affect alimony (§ 50-16.3A.).
Dating would only count as marital misconduct if it happened before you separated from your spouse and if it involved sexual activities. If both criteria are proven true, but the other spouse did not commit marital misconduct, a judge may require you to pay alimony at their discretion.
Once you have begun a pre-divorce separation, however, dating isn't officially infidelity. Your former spouse may be jealous or hurt at the thought of your new partner, but they will be unable to hold it against you in court.
Child custody implications
Custody is a highly nuanced subject of law, so it can be hard to predict if dating might jeopardize time with your children. If you plan to cohabit with a new partner or host overnight guests, the court will likely take this into consideration.
A judge always focuses on finding the safest, healthiest living situation for the child. When shared custody is an option, the court must also recognize that the other parent has a right to shield their child from dangerous or explicit behavior. A new boyfriend who has previous criminal charges, for example, may not be viewed favorably. Living with someone new could decrease the possible amount of child support as well.
Many divorcees choose to postpone dating - or at least taking a new relationship to the next level - until the divorce is final. Not every situation is alike, however. Dating could complicate an already combative divorce, so be ready to meet any challenges that arise during the process.