Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” I’m considering separating from my spouse; what actions should I refrain from doing?”
When you told your friends about your plans to seek a divorce, you may have heard from them something along the lines of, “There are plenty of fish, you should start seeing new people ASAP.”
It might make sense to start dating immediately after filing for divorce. After all, it could boost your self-esteem and provide a much-needed distraction from all the stress and chaos, which are often common parts of every divorce.
Is it legal to date while separated in North Carolina? The answer to the question, “Can you date while separated in NC?” is more complicated than it might seem. Although North Carolina law does not prohibit you from seeing other people after you separate from your spouse, doing so may complicate legal proceedings and negatively affect your chances of a favorable resolution.
Why You Should Think Twice Before Dating While Your Divorce is Pending
If your divorce is pending, it may not be a good idea to jump back into the dating pool, especially if children are involved. Dating other people shortly after separating from your spouse could have an adverse impact on your child custody or visitation rights.
North Carolina judges are more inclined to side with the non-dating spouse if you introduce children to a new romantic partner too soon after the separation. Even if there are no kids involved, moving on too quickly after parting ways with your spouse could throw a monkey wrench into parties’ negotiations regarding property division.
In the worst-case scenario, dating while separated could result in an Alienation of Affection lawsuit against your new romantic partner. In North Carolina, a spouse can sue the person who participated in an affair with their spouse for the alienation of affection and damaging their marriage.
In order to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit in North Carolina, the non-cheating spouse must prove that the relationship between “the other man” or “other woman” and their unfaithful spouse existed prior to their date of legal separation. However, if the relationship began shortly after the date of separation, the non-cheating spouse might argue that the affair started beforehand.
Read more about who can be sued for dating a married man or woman in North Carolina.
When Dating While Separated Could Negatively Impact Your Divorce Case
Now that we have established that jumping back into the dating pool prior to or shortly after the date of separation carries a plethora of risks, when is it actually safe to start seeing other people if your divorce is still ongoing?
That is a tricky question to answer. If you do not know where the line between dating and adultery is, you might want to talk with a Charlotte family law attorney.
Generally, it is not advised to:
- Start going on dates and invite strangers to your house, especially when children are present, within days or weeks after the date of separation.
- Move into a new romantic partner’s place within weeks or months after the separation.
- Begin living with a new partner in your house, especially when children are present, within weeks or months after the separation.
Any of these behaviors could make a judge suspicious. After all, these behaviors might indicate that an affair actually occurred before the date of separation. Feel free to start going on dates a few months after the separation, but avoiding inviting strangers to your house when your children are present. Feel free to marry whomever you want once your divorce decree or judgment is granted.
Consult with a Charlotte family law attorney to talk about the potential impact of your new post-divorce relationship on child custody and other aspects of your divorce. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to receive a case evaluation. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys, speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or at our new office in Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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