Dating During Divorce: 7 Reasons NOT to Go There!

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Dating during divorce. It’s so tempting!

With all the hell you are going through with your spouse, you’re probably feeling stressed out, unloved, and definitely unappreciated.

What better to take your mind off your misery, and boost your flagging self esteem, than a few dates with someone who is actually interested in you? And, if one of those “dates” leads to a more serious romance, so much the better!

Why not start your new life now, rather than wait until you have a stupid piece of paper in your hand that says your divorce is official?

7 Reasons Why Dating During Divorce is a Bad Idea

As much as you might think that you are ready to move on, dating during divorce can have serious implications. It can hurt you both legally and financially. It is also not likely to do you any long-term good emotionally, either.

Here are 7 good reasons why you might want to hold off on dating until you have put your divorce behind you.

Noose hanging next to a stack of law books with the scales of justice on top.

1. Dating during divorce can damage your ability to settle amicably.

It doesn’t matter that your spouse cheated on you 1,000 times while you were married, and this is the first time you have even considered going for coffee with someone else.

No one cares that your divorce case has dragged on for well over a year.

It makes no difference whether you are actually sleeping with a new partner or not.

Unless your spouse is as calm and spiritually evolved as a zen master, when s/he finds out you are dating someone else, it’s going to feel like s/he just got sucker-punched in the gut. That, in turn, will make dealing with your spouse way harder. It will also make settling your case amicably much more challenging.

2. Dating during divorce can reduce the amount of spousal support you receive.

Under the law, you are considered to be legally married until a judge officially divorces you. If you are having sex with someone else before you are divorced, you may technically be committing adultery. (Sorry!) Putting aside the moral aspects of having a fling while you are still married, the legal ramifications of your actions may be deeper than you counted on.

If you live in a state that still recognizes fault in divorce, then your “adultery” may affect your ability to receive spousal support. It may also reduce the amount of spousal support you receive.

What’s more, if you are not just dating, but are living with, your new love, you might as well kiss your chances of receiving spousal support good-bye.

3. Dating during divorce can affect your settlement strategy.

Most people assume that spousal support is paid in monthly installments over time. However, depending upon the law in your state, you may have the option of taking spousal support in a lump sum as soon as your divorce is final.

The problem is, usually the only way you can get a lump sum is if your spouse agrees to pay it to you that way. Most judges won’t order your spouse to pay you support one big lump sum payment.

If your spouse knows that you are likely to be living with someone else soon, s/he will never agree to pay you a lump sum for support. Instead, your spouse will opt for monthly payments. That way, as soon as you start living with someone else, your spouse gets off the hook. Spousal support ends when you move in with a new partner.

Judge's gavel next to mason jar of coins spilling onto the table. Dating during divorce will cost you.

4. Dating during divorce can cost you money in your property settlement.

Any money you receive as spousal support is generally taxable income to you.  (At least this will be true if you divorce in 2018.) Any money you receive in a property settlement is not.

For that reason, you might want to give up your right to spousal support in exchange for receiving more money now. Your spouse may want to do that too because it will end his/her obligation to support you in the future.

Trading a bigger property settlement for spousal support makes for a clean break.  It also eliminates a lot of potential problems for both parties in the future.

However, if you are already dating someone, your spouse may be much less likely to agree to give you more marital property in exchange for your waiving your right to support.

Instead, your spouse will probably opt to pay you support over time. That way, your spouse won’t have to give up any extra marital property.  Then as soon as you and your new love start living together, your spouse can stop paying spousal support, too.

5. Dating during divorce can hurt your post-divorce parenting.

When you and your spouse are trying to make a parenting plan, each of you assumes that the other will be alone with the children during your scheduled parenting time. When that changes, making a parenting plan can suddenly get way more complicated.

It is not unusual for the non-dating parent to feel like s/he has already been replaced by the “other person.” That makes him/her even less crazy about giving up any time with the kids.

What’s more, the non-dating parent now not only worries about how the dating parent will raise the kids, but how the dating parent’s new squeeze will affect the kids, too!

All of this makes reaching a reasonable parenting agreement infinitely more difficult.

Sad little girl looking at her watch. Make time for your kids!

6. Dating during divorce can affect your kids.

Going through a divorce takes as much time and energy as a full-time job. If you already have a full time job (which you obviously need to keep because you now really need the money), that already leaves you with precious little time for your kids.

Yet, your kids probably need more of your time and attention now than they did before.  Remember, they are trying to deal with their own emotions about the divorce. They are trying to navigate their own “new family.” They are trying to adjust to their own new reality.

New relationships, even casual dating relationships, take time … often a LOT of time. That means that you will have even less time and attention left for your kids.

You may think that your kids won’t care.

Don’t kid yourself. They will.

No matter how much you may tell yourself that if you are happier, you will be a better parent, the truth is, you need time.  You have to have the time, energy, and enough emotional bandwidth to take care of your kids.

Dating scene of man and woman having coffee.

7. Dating during divorce distracts you from dealing with your own emotional stuff.

At first blush, embarking on a new relationship might seem like exactly what you need to forget about your pain. Nothing is as exciting (or distracting) as a new romance!

The problem is that, no matter how long you may have been thinking about divorce, or how dead your marriage may be, while you are going through a divorce, you are still not at your best. You’re not truly yourself.

In order to move on from your marriage, you have to deal with your emotions.  Like it or not, you have to let yourself feel the pain, anger, sadness, and other emotions you feel. You have to take the time, and do the work, needed to allow you to truly heal your wounds.

Otherwise, you will simply repeat the same mistakes in your new relationship that you made in your marriage.

Hiding your pain in a new romance may feel great for awhile, but, ultimately, it is nothing more than a temporary anesthetic. What’s more, once the romance fades, or the new relationship ends, you may find yourself picking up even more pieces of your shattered self than you had before you let yourself get swept away.

The Bottom Line When It Comes to Dating

While you may be tempted to date while you’re still in the process of getting a divorce, the bottom line is: It’s a bad idea!

Instead of spending your time and energy on someone new, consider spending that time and energy on someone who truly needs and deserves it: YOU!

Then, once your divorce is behind you, you will be able to start dating again with a clear head, an open heart and all the energy a new relationship deserves!

Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


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  • Well, I’m a guy in my 60s with mediocre looks, modest income, and no charisma–I couldn’t get dates when I was young, so I hardly anticipate the issue coming up now. But these are good points, especially the last. I’m going to keep them in mind, when and if I end up facing divorce, just in case the impossible should happen and a freak opportunity should arise.

    • I hope you never need to date because your marriage turns around! But, if you do find yourself divorced and dating (in that order!) have a little faith in yourself! Your dating experience in the past doesn’t control your dating experience in the future. Remember, some of us are like fine wine — we get better with age!


  • Hello I’m going through a divorce and my husband has already in a new relationship I didn’t want spousal support at first but now I do not because he with someone else but because he abandon me after I am the one that helped him get the career that he has and he leaves me without helping me with the household that he and I had to take care of someone else that was not here for the struggle………………..I feel used!!!!!!

    • I’m so sorry! I can hear how bad you feel. I’m not surprised you feel used.

      If I could make one suggestion, it would be to make decisions in your divorce based on your head, not on your heart. I know you feel used. But your husband’s new relationship may not have anything to do with whether or not you are legally entitled to get alimony. (Sorry!)

      If you are entitled to get alimony, and you want to go for it, that’s different. But if you let how you feel drive you to make divorce decisions that are unwise, you will only drag your divorce out longer and make yourself feel worse. Remember, there is very little about getting a divorce that’s fair. (Again, sorry!)


      • My new boyfriend is going through a divorced.
        But he thinks that it will affect him with his boys?
        They been separated since 2018 and he burly put the divorced in March 2019
        We meet April! Does it affect him

  • Hello, I’m in a divorce process that is dragging. It has been 2 and 6 months since my husband was served. I decided to move out of our matrimonial home and immediately his mistress moved in our house. We have not shared the property yet as we are married in community of property and my children are no longer free to pay their father a visit.
    THE saddening part is that I left my furniture trying to do things a legal way but now they are being used by another woman who came with 3 kids not fathered by my husband

  • If you have started your divorce and paid the filing fee and just waiting on your other half and in the divorce papers it says you have been separated for so long .say 8 months or longer, can you legally start seeing someone else without it being adultry if we have been seperated for 8 months already.??..

  • My divorce and settlement issues have also been dragging for 3 years. He has a girlfriend and stays with her over nite a lot. I cannot get my attorney in gear with moving on with my divorce and I’m broke now. He got rid of me in our relationship I’m on disability and he’s spending thousands of dollars on everything rom overseas trips to new tractors and garages added to the House. Help!!
    Sad and broke and lonely

    • I’m so sorry to hear you are sad broke and lonely. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much I can help you.

      What you really need is a seond opinion from another divorce lawyer in your area. That can’t be me. I can’t give legal advice online or outside of the state of Illinois.

      I suggest you seek out another divorce lawyer in your area. The second lawyer can tell you what your options are, and what you can do about your first lawyer dragging his feet. (You may need to fire your lawyer if he isn’t doing what he is supposed to be doing.)

      Also, if you don’t have a therapist already, you might want to get one. Dealing with any divorce is difficult. But dealing with one that has been dragging on for 3 years is especially hard! There is no shame in getting help to deal with your emotions, and the problems that I’m sure have arisen while goign through a 3 year divorce.

      I know this isn’t what you want to hear. I’m sorry. But right now you need divorce professionals in your area to deal with your divorce directly so you can put it behind you.

      I wish you the best.


  • Can she bring her new “friend” around our kids and bring them gifts do I have the right to say I don’t want him around my kids and if she does spend a lot of time with him and not with kids are my chances of full custody better.

    • A lot of what you are asking are legal questions. If you want to know your chances of full custody you need to talk to your lawyer. Your lawyer will also be able to tell you whether she can bring her friend around your kids during your divorce. If your divorce is already over, you need to look at whatever your divorce judgment says. That will tell you what your ex can and can’t do.

  • Going be going through divorce. She had asked me to leave. But later found out she started dating our next door neighbor. I know he stays there or living in the house. She does not work. If he is staying there would he be able get spousal support?

  • My husband and I have separated as of Feb 4, 2019. We have been married for 14 years and both have cheated on each other. Initially after both cheating we did stay together and decided to work it out. Since May 2018 I found out that he has actuality been having an affair again. I caught get driving his vehicle. She claimed not to know he was married and til this day she is still messing with him. Not 100% sure that she moved in with him since my son and I have moved out but she’s always there and still drives his vehicle. He told her that he wants to marry her Ann’s have children together. Before he basically forced me out of our rented home he actually told her he was working on moving her in so that they can start they’re life together. I want to file for alimony and of course child support. Would the previous cheating on my phase affect this and how would his cheating now affect it.

    • I wish I could answer you, but you’re asking a legal question. I can’t answer legal questions online or outside the state of Illinois. You’ll have to ask a lawyer in your area that question.

  • I’m in my second month of legal separation here in Louisiana. I’ve caught my husband with another woman. Is that considered adultry?

  • Hi Karen , my marriage ended today, my husband has been falsely accusing me of cheating. He has slander my name to anyone who will listen, he’s pitted half my in-laws against me, he’s playing victim . He says he has no solid proof( of course not , because it’s all in his head) I filed for divorce twice just as recent as 2/5/19 he convinced me to not go to court , only to ask for a divorce 5weeks later. Im hurt from disappointment , I feel angry, I feel betrayed. I ask was he leaving because he had fallen for someone else. He’s gotten physical (once) and verbally abusive I took it all thinking I could change our circumstances by continuing to love while he showed me nothing but disrespect. I finally gave in, I even gave my beautiful ring back. I’m finally off of this ten month roller coaster. He’s been tracking my car, secretly recording me, I found the voice activated recorder pen in my purse. I popped it in my pc, I was in pure shock that he violated my privacy. I’ll be glad when the pain is over, sad but relived no more mental suffering and being controlled.

  • My wife started seeing someone 1 week after I had to leave my home for job training. She has been wanting to divorce for a while and I have accepted that. But after only knowing this guy for 3 weeks she’s already brought him around the kids and we’re still married. We have. 2 young children together 5 and 7 plus 5 older children from a previous relationship she had. I asked her not to bring her new relationship around the kids until our divorce is done and she said no. Was I wrong for asking that? Is 4 weeks of knowing someone a little soon to bring them around especially when your still married and the children don’t know your divorcing? Is this normal for a women to do? I felt disrespected because I wouldn’t dare bring a woman around my children and less we had been dating for 7 months. Is this her way to get back at me? Why would she play so dirty?

    • You’re asking a lot of questions that likely have no answer. Or, at least they have an answer that won’t help you.

      Asking “WHY?” is the wrong question. Asking, “Is this what I want my kids to see and, if not, what can I do about it?” will get you a better result.

      So, do you want your kids to be introduced to strangers so soon? Clearly, the answer is No. So, what can you do about it?

      If you are in the divorce process already, that’s a question to ask your lawyer. You may be able to get a court order to stop your wife from introducing the kids to new guys so soon. That might help you in the future, and it’s definitely something to discuss with your divorce lawyer. The problem is, in this instance, the cat is already out of the bag so to speak. The law can’t help your kids “un-know” what they know.

      So the real question is what can you do now in the way of damage control?

      You may want to consult with a child psychologist about all the details of your situation. S/he may have a lot of insight into what you can do that will work given your exact circumstances.

      From a bigger perspective, regardless of whether your wife is trying to get back at you or not, I urge you not to react the same way. Put your kids first. Explain to them, in an age-appropriate way, what divorce is and what it will mean for them. Help them deal with it. Help them deal with their emotions (because they certainly will have them!). Do your best NOT to talk badly about their mom, even though you disagree with her actions. Take the high road.

      I know that none of this is probably what you want to hear. But, honestly, if you care about your kids, it’s the best thing you can do for them!


  • Dear Karen. I have been living in Florida since 2010. We bought our house than year. Have being married 24 years. In January 2019 I found out through her, that she had been having an affair with a known person since 2015. We have 2 kids: 22 and 14. She moved out of the house with her lover this past March 30, 2019. Because I am retired from SS my 14 year old receives payment and she is the representative. She wants me to move out of the house that I bought with my 401K for the initial down pyt. and have made 105 payments without missing a pyt. I can not afford a lawyer. In your expertise in law what do you think or which would my options be. Is not any repercussion at all for what she had done ? Please help.

    • I wish I could help you. Unfortunately, I can’t give legal advice online or outside the state of Illinois. Legal advice is definitely what you need.

      I suggest you go to your local Legal Aid Office and see if they can help you. Or you may be able to get a free consultation with a divorce lawyer in your area.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help.



  • Hello! I’m actually currently filling out my divorce papers and am not sure what grounds I should file under. There has been a lot that has happened and I wasnt to make it as simple as possible.
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  • Really? Because if your smart you can get away with anything you want and its only bad if you get caught which is hard to do of your smart about it.

    I hate my wife but love my kids so cheating is better than losing them. I disagree with most of this article.

    • Without knowing a WHOLE LOT more about your situation (and I’m not sure you’d want to put all those details out onto the internet!), I have no idea what to tell you. (Sorry!)

      If your husband took your son and won’t let you see him, I suggest you talk to an attorney asap. That’s really your best bet.

  • Hi, my wife moved out in January and moved in with her parents. She filed for divorce in April. We still don’t have a date set yet for mediation. She is also wanting alimony since she makes less then $10k a year. My thought is it’s your choice to divorce you need to live with the consequences. Anyway, my daughter advised me during a weekly phone call a couple weeks ago that they went to one of mom’s “friends” from high school and apparently were there most of the day. This week, they attended the local county fair with said friend and today my other daughter told me he stopped at the apartment which my wife and daughters just moved into. I don’t think my kids see this as much as I do but it seems to me she is already dating. In the parenting plan we had agreed upon, any new “friends” were supposed to be introduced to the kids in a public place and only for a brief meeting. It sounds like they have had at least 3 meetings that I would not consider brief or public for the most part. I do not know if my wife knows that I know about her “friend”. Also, when my wife still lived at home and told me things needed to change, I would check browsing history to see if she was looking up lawyers or places to live. Her “friends” name came up in Facebook searches a few times so I’m not even sure if this may be something more prolonged. The other thing that confuses me is she is supposedly very pro-Christian and even has an email signature that says for His glory yet seems to be dating while still married. I’m wondering if I should bring any of this up to my spouse? I love my wife and kids and would love to try and reconcile but she seems to have a very hard heart currently and says she does not want to work on the marriage anymore even though we have not really tried anything to save it (counseling, coaching, etc.)

    • Oh my! Where to start!

      First of all, I can tell you want to work on your marriage. You’d really like to save it. That’s wonderful! But, if your wife doesn’t, I’m afraid there’s not much you can do about that. (Sorry!) Unfortunately, it takes TWO people to make a marriage, and only one to create a divorce. While you might be able to persuade your wife to change her mind, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to be too successful at that, given what you’ve written here. (Again, sorry!)

      As for the parenting plan you agreed on, it sounds like the part about not introducing the kids to any new “friends” is out the window already! (Sorry!) While that stinks, it is also useful information. How?

      It tells you something about how much your wife intends to respect the parenting plan in the future. While I’m not suggesting that she will consistently ignore your agreement, I wouldn’t be surprised if she “selectively follows” parts of it moving forward. I suggest you talk to your attorney about that now so that you can see what your options are for making sure that you both follow the most important provisions of your parenting plan moving forward.

      As for whether you should tell your wife you know about her “friend,” that’s really up to you. But if you want to deal with the issue of her violating the agreement you made, you’ve got to tell her that you know she violated it. You both need to talk about what your parenting plan means, and, more importantly, how you will raise your kids moving forward. Then you need to agree to a plan that you will both honor.

      Finally, about alimony. I know you don’t feel like you should have to pay it. No one ever does. But that’s a legal question you’ll have to discuss with your lawyer. (Sorry!)



  • DON’T DATE! Dating during your divorce is something you don’t want to engage in. Don’t clutter up your mind with dating, drinking or abusing any other substances. You need to keep your mind clear. You are in a fight, you need to stay focused! Dating and drinking and abusing substances takes MONEY and money is something you need to covet right now. You should be living on a budget, worrying about your own needs first. Protect your mind and your finances. Your divorce attorney needs you in tip top mental condition. You and he or she have to strategize, plan, map out your direction through this divorce process and they need you to be of clear mind and thought. Lastly, you cannot AFFORD to date. Dinner, drinks, maybe a movie, a shopping trip together all takes money, and if you do this once a week you’re depleting your finances. Keep your money in your wallet or purse! Right now you are of no value to someone else, you don’t truly have much to offer emotionally. Sure, your ego is damaged, you’re lost, hurting. You’re wounded, crushed, psychologically a mess, emotionally wrecked. Dating is the LAST thing you need to do right now.

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