Dating During & After Divorce

By: Jenét G. Pequeño

October 2, 2015

The length of a divorce case can vary—some will drag on and some will be settled quickly. Whatever the case, a lot can happen during that time, and while one relationship may be ending a new one may be beginning.

So how do the courts view significant others? From my experience, starting a new relationship is not going to win or lose your case so long as your significant other does not have major red flags in their background, such as a criminal record or substance abuse issues. Those are really the major issues, especially when children are involved.

Your future ex-spouse is not going to lose custody of the children just because they have a new significant other. I have heard many people complain that the children are present when there is an overnight going on, and sometimes the divorce is not even over. Though this raises the question of whether that parent is making premature/questionable decisions, this is not fatal to a custody case. The biggest consideration is whether the children are exposed to any immoral conduct between the other parent and their significant other. Also, it should be understood that under no circumstance should children share the bed with both the parent and significant other, even if the child has a nightmare. That is a big detriment in the decision making of that parent in court. Some parents will create all kinds of excuses for this behavior, but it is simply not allowed.

It should also be common sense that there should not be a revolving door of significant others spending the night because if that were to occur, that could reflect on the parent’s poor decision making. Abstaining from these types of behaviors will not guarantee custody. It is behavior that will be addressed by the court, though.

Parents have to use their best judgment when they decide to begin dating again. There are important considerations to be made when the new significant other also has children from a prior relationship, like determining when to introduce the children. It is best when the two parents are in a steady, committed relationship with one another. Having children meet should be a natural progression, like any other relationship in its infancy. Start the children off in an activity that allows for interaction but is not exclusive to them, such as an outing at a park for younger children or a bowling alley where the children can interact more naturally. The courts view whether a parent places their children as their top priority as the most important factor—it is not just a matter of pushing the relationship on the children.

For those without children, the biggest step may actually be going out on that first date. There is a mix of emotions that one may be going through, but the biggest thing that one needs to be aware of is whether or not they are ready for that date. It does not benefit you or the other person if you only accept because your friends are pressuring you to go out just for the sake of it. Be honest with yourself and be free mentally to enjoy yourself while out. Do not dwell on the negatives of your ex, and do not be offended if the person asks some questions about the relationship. Just set the tone and answer honestly. If any question the other person asks is too personal at the moment, simply tell them you are uncomfortable answering at this specific time but would be willing to answer in the future.

In sum, just believe in yourself and take the lessons that you learned and go for what you want and do not be afraid to avoid the people with the traits that you learned you cannot put up with. Good luck!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss matters of divorce and custody further, you may contact attorney Jenet Pequeno at Lavelle Law, Ltd. at (847) 705-7555 or at jpequeno@lavellelaw.com.