The answer is yes, you are free to date as if you are not married after you and your spouse are legally separated. But the truth is, you should be careful. Anything beyond casual socializing may complicate the divorce process and even negatively affect the outcome when it comes to finances and child custody. And, you may not worry about third party claims such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation as they are not valid when legally separated.
North Carolina won’t grant the divorce until the state-mandated one-year physical separation is over.
If you are wondering whether you can date during your separation period, the smart thing to do would be to ask one of our experienced divorce lawyers. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Things to Consider Before Dating During Separation
For your personal and legal benefit, the answer on dating you are likely to get from a lawyer is to tough it out, keep life simple until you are single again in the eyes of the law. As you weigh that advice, you should also consider:
- Don’t rush into anything. Going through a divorce is an emotionally draining process. And although you may crave the emotional support of a new partner, you need to think through any decisions on dating. Stay in touch with your emotions, and ask yourself what you really need right now.
- Are you still thinking about your spouse? If you are concerned about what your spouse is doing – and with whom – you aren’t ready to connect with someone else. If you think there’s a chance that you may reconcile at the end of this separation, you shouldn’t risk complicating the process by dating someone else.
- Take the time to be with yourself. Divorce is a huge turning point in a person’s life. And many people find that they have changed a lot over the course of the marriage, or that the marriage has changed them. Before you consider dating, get to know your separated self.
- Think about your children. Starting a new relationship is your decision to make, but it will also affect the lives of your children. And during the separation period, your dating behaviors may affect child custody decisions related to the divorce.
- What are the odds that this relationship will last? We’ve all heard of rebound relationships. Consider whether the person you are interested in is really the new love of your life. If you believe he or she is, would it hurt to remain friends until your divorce is final?
- Have you taken the time to process what went wrong in your marriage? This is a big consideration and one that should influence how you approach new relationships going forward. It takes time to be able to take a step back and evaluate what you want out of your next relationship and how you want it to be different.
- Be very careful about what you share on social media. During separation, you and your spouse are likely still working on your child custody arrangement and other delicate issues that could be inflamed by dating-life posts on social media.
The ultimate thing to keep in mind is that you are still married in the eyes of the law until your divorce is final.
When You Are Ready to Date …
For many people, dating after divorce can be daunting. You may feel pressure from yourself or others to “get back out there.” Some tips to consider:
- You are the only one who can say that you are ready to date. Don’t be pushed into something you’re not comfortable with.
- Meeting people online is normal these days, but there are precautions you should take to protect yourself.
- A dinner date can be a lot of pressure. Consider coffee or drinks instead.
- Never talk about your former spouse on a first date.
- Do not introduce your date to your children until you are in a place where you feel the relationship is a steady one.
Have You Asked Mom? She Knows Everything
Your heart of hearts knows exactly what your mother would say if you told her you want to date before the divorce is finalized. It would go something like this:
Listen, honey, even if you haven’t realized this yet, you have been hurt. Living through a divorce is complicated and emotionally crushing. Even the one year the state makes you wait for the divorce papers probably won’t be enough to heal, and that is going to have to happen before you can begin a meaningful and rewarding relationship with someone else.
These things take time, and if you move too fast, the healing might not happen as and when it should. You will know when the time is right.
Charles R. Ullman & Associates Can Help with Family Law Issues
The North Carolina family law firm of Charles R. Ullman & Associates helps people who are coping with divorce in Raleigh, Cary, and throughout Wake County. People turn to us for compassionate service in matters of divorce and separation, including child custody, child support, visitation, alimony, and post-separation support.
Contact us today at our Raleigh office to schedule a consultation. We provide the kind of advice and support that can help you through this difficult time in your life.