Can You Date While Separated?

Some couples choose to be separated before they officially divorce. What does “separated” mean? Living without cohabitation for a certain period to review your relationship or prepare for a divorce would be a separation definition.

Although separate residence does not mean divorce, some spouses decide to move on and start dating while separated. Is dating during separation an adultery? The answer can be affirmative or negative; it depends on various factors, including the situation’s specifics and your agreements with the other party.

Most couples who started new relations while in a previous marriage are interested in the question “Can I lose custody of my child for dating?” and “How will dating affect property division during a divorce?”. Dating during separation can have different consequences, which are mostly determined by the type of non-cohabitation.

In this article, we will discuss whether it is worth entering into a new relationship without obtaining a divorce and answer the question, “Can dating during divorce affect custody?”. Additionally, we will also introduce some tips on how to prepare your future ex-spouse and children for the news that you have a new loved one.

Types of Separation 

Any concluded separation agreement is not an official divorce. That is, until you file for marriage dissolution and obtain a divorce decree, your non-cohabitation, regardless of how long it persists, does not grant you the right to remarry.

Although you can start dating after separation, it can have a significant impact on the outcome of a future divorce, especially if your case is contested and you cannot agree on child-related or asset division issues.

There are 3 main types of separation that spouses can resort to:

  1. Trial Separation or Ambiguous Separation.

A trial separation is the first step to a possible future divorce, which many married couples choose. It means that you and your spouse have decided to live apart for some time to make sure that the decision to end your marital relations is correct or to seek reconciliation.

If your husband or wife wants to live separately, you can try ambiguous separation before filing for divorce without formalizing any agreements. However, the best option would be to resolve issues of your minor children’s custody and property division on paper by concluding a so-called separation agreement.

It will allow you to try to live for a while according to the arrangements as if you were already divorced. If you still decide to terminate your marriage, the already-prepared agreement may help you avoid many disputes and complete the divorce process faster.

Dating another person during a trial separation may be acceptable if both you and your spouse want to get a divorce in the future. However, if the other spouse is still trying to save your marriage, dating another person can damage your relationship and lead to the appearance of contested issues.

  • Permanent Separation.

If you have not managed to reconcile and continue to live separately or reside without cohabitation for a long time, trial separation may turn into a permanent one.

It also means that your marriage is not over, so you are still considered husband and wife, and your marital property and accounts remain joint. Given that you may need to divide property and parental responsibilities during your future divorce, concluding a separation agreement will be useful. The date of its signing can be considered the beginning of your permanent separation. Judges often take it into account when making decisions related to divorce, such as property division.

When living apart for an extended period, you may probably enter into new relations. Their impact on the result of your divorce will depend on various circumstances. If you do not hide them from your spouse and have agreed on most or all of the future divorce terms, you may not face any difficulties due to dating before the official dissolution of the marriage. However, the other spouse may also try to use this fact as evidence of your misconduct when starting the contested divorce.

  • Legal Separation.

In California, legal separation process is very similar to a formal divorce because it requires spouses to divide joint assets, liabilities, and debts and resolve child-related issues. However, there is a major difference – after the court grants you a legal separation, you and your spouse are still married.

Couples may choose to start legal separation instead of a divorce for different reasons. Some avoid marriage dissolution due to cultural or religious beliefs, while others do not want to lose the financial benefits they receive from marriage. One way or another, legal separation indicates that you have decided to live separately, dividing your parental and financial obligations. Dating while legally separated is a common situation when a couple is not ready to end their marriage but wants to make a future with another person.

The parties are no longer living together and have a court decision on all marriage dissolution issues, so in most cases, it may not have a negative effect on the divorce. However, unless you receive a formal decree, you are not allowed to remarry someone else.

Regardless of the kind of separation you decide on, you should be aware that dating before filing for divorce can have emotional and legal effects, particularly if you and your spouse haven’t reached an agreement on how to divide your family’s assets or resolve child-related issues. 

How to Start Dating After Separation?

No one can advise when you should start dating another person after separating from your spouse. Some already choose dating while separated but living together, while others delay entering new relationships for several months or even years. Only you can decide when to start dating, taking into account your emotional readiness and case-specific circumstances.

Here are some recommendations before you enter into the first relationship after divorce:

  1. Take care of your mental health. Divorce is mostly a painful process, so before starting dating again, give yourself time to rest and adjust to your new status and life. If you feel exhausted or apathetic, try a new sport or hobby.
  2. Make sure you are ready for new relations. Dating immediately after divorce may not be the best decision, which can negatively affect you and your new partner. You should not rush, especially if you are trying to avoid loneliness by starting dating another person.
  3. Consider what your new relationship should be like. Remember what led to the breakup of your marriage and try not to make previous mistakes.
  4. Do not rush to remarry or have children. There is no right answer for how long after divorce to date before remarrying. Loneliness can have a strong impact on your emotional state, but you should not legitimize a relationship with a partner you barely know.
  5. Try to find support among friends or relatives. If you have been married for a long time, you may be worried about how to date again after divorce. Do not look for support from strangers and new relations. Surround yourself with friends and relatives; they may help you cope with the first difficult days after divorce.
  6. Don’t conceal anything from your new partner. No one knows for sure when to start dating after divorce, but it is obvious that whenever you enter into a new relationship, you should not hide information about your recent marriage dissolution. If your new relations develop into a desire to get married, withholding facts can damage them.
  7. Do not avoid communication with your ex-spouse, especially if you have minor children. Although your relationship may not be friendly anymore, you still need to make decisions about your kids. Learn to communicate without stress; constant quarrels can have a negative effect on relations with a new partner, family, and children.

If you are interested in “How long should you wait to date after a divorce?” it is worth noting that it is reasonable to start a new relationship as soon as both of you decide to terminate the marriage, resolve all the divorce terms, and receive a divorce decree. In addition, do not forget to consider your emotional state – you should not enter into dating a new person if you are not ready for that.

How to Tell Your Ex About Your New Relationship?

Most divorced spouses starting new relations think about whether it is worth telling their ex about a new partner. It is not always necessary, but if you decide to share details of your personal life, try to be tactful.

Here are some recommendations on how and what to tell your ex about a new partner in different situations:

  1. If you have recently discussed the topic “My ex is dating someone new” with your friends, it cannot be a reason to inform your ex-spouse about your own new relationship. You should not try to provoke jealousy.
  2. If your relationship with your ex has remained amicable and you frequently get together informally, you can discuss that you are no longer single. Just take care not to make any comparisons between your current and former partner.
  3. If you have no reason to communicate due to the lack of responsibilities left after marriage with your ex, it is quite possible that you should not discuss your personal life during a random meeting. The details of your dating can be taken the wrong way.
  4. If you know that your ex has been single for a long time while you have already found love, you should not flaunt your relations. Tell about them only if asked.
  5. If you have minor children for whom you share responsibilities, it may be necessary to talk about the new relationship, especially if your partner is going to spend time with your kids. Things to tell your ex in such a situation should include only the terms of their communication. It is inappropriate to discuss other topics of your personal life that do not concern children.

You don’t have to discuss your new relationship with your ex unless it involves your minor children. If your new partner will take part in your kids’ lives, you should let your former party know so that any potential arguments don’t result in further legal action.

How to Prepare Your Children for Your New Relationship?

If you and your spouse decide to live separately and then divorce, you will have to think about how to talk to your child about separation. It may be a big stress for them, but they have to know about your intentions from you and not third persons. If you are dating a new partner during separation in marriage with children, it may be better not to let them know each other until you obtain a divorce.

According to the basics of child psychology, introducing a new partner to kids should follow some steps to not harm your relations with children and ex-spouse:

  1. Inform your ex about your plans to acquaint children with a person you are dating. Do not provoke conflicts, and do not hide your relationship.
  2. Tell your children about a new friend you spend time with. Explain that this person is important to you and discuss the future meeting.
  3. Get together in an informal setting. You can go to the cinema or bowling. It depends on the age and interests of you and your children.
  4. Involve your partner in spending time with children, but don’t do it too often. Make sure you spend enough time with kids without any third parties.

If you are interested in how to help your child accept a new relationship, the best thing you can do is to explain to your children that they are still your main priority and that your attitude towards them will not change with the appearance of a new partner.

The question of how to introduce your teenager to a new partner can be more difficult to answer, but you will cope with the task if you spend more time with your son or daughter and do not force them to become friends with a new partner. If you are caring and attentive to your children, it will be easier for them to accept a new family member.