Marriages often end with a lengthy period in which communication is difficult or strained or even nonexistent. Intimacy is gone and those pure feelings of joy and excitement that were so alive in courtship are so distant and faint that they feel like memories from a past life.
A new relationship during the Maryland divorce process feels like the antidote to a marriage that had in many ways grown toxic. You’re having fun and feeling desirable and appreciated again. You’re once more enjoying the physical and psychological pleasures of intimacy. Instead of dreading spending time with your spouse, you’re looking forward to dates, dinners and more with a new romantic interest.
As good as all of that can be, what could possibly be wrong with dating during divorce?
There is nothing wrong with the new relationship – except its timing and the very negative impact it might have on your divorce. It’s for this reason that many experts urge those who are going through divorce to put off dating until after the divorce is final.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the damaging effects dating can have on divorce.
Escalation of enmity
If you’re the one who initiated the divorce, your new relationship might well look like betrayal that began with cheating during your marriage. Even if your relationship began after you separated from your spouse, it might well appear to be the result of treachery and lies – which often leads to an escalation of rancor and hostility in divorce proceedings.
A high-conflict divorce can mean that extended and difficult negotiations over property division, spousal support and perhaps most of all, child custody.
As part of the divorce process, you’ll be negotiating the terms and structure of co-parenting and custody agreements with each other directly, through your family law attorneys or in mediation, but no matter the venue, your soon-to-be ex might argue that you have less time for parenting because of your devotion to the new relationship.
A drawn-out, contentious custody battle can also taint the co-parenting relationship that is crucial to the healthful development of children.
You can in many cases draw a straight line from the escalation of enmity in divorce to increased costs of getting through the legal process.
If your soon-to-be ex suspects that you’re using (or have used) marital resources for gifts, dates, travel, etc., in your new relationship, expect difficulties in negotiations or in court over money and money-related issues. That can mean extended disagreements and delays over the sale or possession of the house, vehicles, savings, retirement plans, stocks and so on.
Longer negotiations and/or court proceedings result, of course, in increased legal bills and elongated and intensified divorce-related stress.
Talking it over
As you can see, there are some pretty serious downsides to dating during divorce. The scenarios described here can all be discussed with a family law attorney devoted to helping clients navigate Maryland’s legal system while protecting their interests at every turn.