Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Can you date during legal separation

You are legally separated from your spouse but not yet divorced. Should you date someone?

You can, but you shouldn't.

There are many reasons why is it a very bad idea to date during your separation.

You are still married, even though you are legally separated. Some divorces take a while to finalize. It may feel like you have been separated for a long time that you are really divorced. But until the divorce order is signed by a judge, you are still married.

Having a romantic relationship while you are still married can be used against you in court. It can show marital misconduct. If you use marital funds (money acquired during the marriage from your or your spouse's work) to pay for your dating activities, that can considered wasting marital assets.

The division of marital property and allocation of marital debts can be adversely affected by your having a sexual relationship.

Spousal support can be denied or reduced due to an adulterous relationship on your part, unless denying or reducing your spousal support would be a manifest injustice.

But most importantly, dating can be used against you on custody issues. Dating shows that you are prioritizing your social life before your children. You could be spending time with your kids or doing things for them, but you chose to pursue your romantic life instead. Don't ever introduce your romantic partner to your kids. Don't mention anything to your kids about your partner. In fact, don't mention anything about your partner to anyone.

Another reason to avoid dating is that it can poison the well and antagonize your spouse. This can lead to problems in cooperating and working together to reach agreement on custody, financial and other issues that can resolve the matter and avoid a messy court battle. You are going to have to work with your spouse for a long time if you have kids. You do not want to do anything that will upset your spouse. Settlement negotiations will be a lot harder if your spouse is angry at your having a romantic relationship. The fact of the relationship can be used against you in the negotiations.

Finally, adultery is a crime in Virginia: Any person, being married, who voluntarily shall have sexual intercourse with any person not his or her spouse shall be guilty of adultery, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor. Committing adultery can have negative effects in the criminal justice system as well as your employment. You spouse can tell anyone about your adulterous relationship, including your employer, colleagues, friends.

Bottom line: Stop the relationship until the final order is entered in your case. No communication.

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