Divorce can create upheaval in your life. Suddenly you don't have that stability to which you've grown accustomed. You might be losing your emotional support and the uncertainty can further weigh on you. It's no surprise that a lot of people choose to start dating again before their divorce is even final.
This is a personal choice that everybody makes for themselves. But we hope that before you choose to start dating while separated, you recognize the effects it can have emotionally as well as legally in the state of Washington.
Divorce, Dating & Adultery in Washington State
Washington is a pure no fault divorce state. State laws changed several years ago to create a streamlined divorce process that requires only an assertion of irreconcilable differences for the state to grant a divorce. You don't have to prove that any party is at fault for the divorce.
So even if you begin dating while you are still legally married, the courts won't hold the "adultery" against you in your divorce case. But it could have more indirect implications for your divorce.
Dating Before Divorce is Final Could Make It More Contentious
An amicable divorce could turn messy if you begin to date someone new – whether or not your soon-to-be ex has also moved on. While there is nothing legally wrong with dating before your divorce is official in Washington State, it can often begin disputes and complexities that you could otherwise avoid.
In some high-conflict cases, one spouse might purposefully make the negations more difficult simply out of spite if the other spouse started dating. Be aware of this possibility before you start dating again.
Dating While Separated May Upset or Confuse Your Children
Probably one of the most sensitive subjects to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of dating during separation is the potential impact it may have on your children.
A divorce means huge changes for your children. They are probably dealing with feelings of anger, confusion, and sadness. While children are by and large remarkably resilient, they might not be ready to accept someone new in their lives. Introducing further upheaval and complications to the children's lives could worsen the effects of the divorce.
Some issues that children might deal with during the divorce process include:
- Decreased performance in school (see our eBook for keeping your high schooler on track during conflict)
- Mental and emotional instability
- Truancy and/or behavioral disturbances
- Depression and anxiety
- Difficulty acclimating to new living arrangements
While some children are able to assimilate seamlessly into the post-divorce routine, others require additional counseling and support. So even if you feel ready to start dating again, your children may not be ready to move on yet.
Dating Could Distract You from Yourself
Going through the divorce process emotionally usually imparts the multi-step grief process, which includes:
Sound familiar? Divorce is a loss and we grieve the marriage as such. If you are like most, you have experienced a wide range of emotions during your divorce – ranging from sullen to celebratory, and everything in between.
Dating during this process can unnecessarily turn the focus away from yourself and your own self-healing. It can seem like the perfect solution to an emotional debt you're feeling, but ultimately it might leave you feeling even more bankrupt – particularly if the new relationship ends in breakup as well.
Dating While Separated Could Affect Your New Partner
Dating during separation can impact your new partner as well. It can create unexpected complexities on the new relationship that may be difficult for the new boyfriend or girlfriend to handle.
From a practical perspective, going through a divorce – particularly a complex one – will take a significant amount of energy and effort, most of which will be debited from the energy allocated to the growth of the new relationship.
Further, it is not uncommon for a new partner to feel ignored and neglected when dating someone entrenched in the divorce process, which could ultimately lead to break-down and break-up. While many relationships flourish in the aftermath of divorce, dating during a separation can be very difficult as everything is still up in the air.
Make Your Choice Wisely
In the end, choosing to date someone new before your divorce is final is a personal choice – but it is one that you should never make lightly. When making the decision to embark on a new relationship, consider how the changes will impact your children, your new partner, and yourself. Moreover, consider the upsides of living single for a while as you gain footing and learn how to survive as a single parent and/or single person.
As you navigate the divorce process, keep in mind that you can always initiate a new relationship – and waiting until you are truly ready is your best bet in accomplishing both success in divorce and success in dating.
Contact the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny for Divorce Help
If you would like to meet with a divorce lawyer in Bellevue to discuss the impact of dating on the divorce process, please contact me at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny as soon as possible: 425-460-0550.