Once the paperwork is filed and the divorce process begins, it’s easy to see yourself as free from the marriage. You may want to immediately do all the things you couldn’t do during the marriage, including dating. Your romantic relationship with your spouse may be over, but legally, the marriage isn’t. Until the court finalizes the divorce, you are still married.
Before this happens, any small misstep could be used against you. Starting a new relationship during your divorce isn’t illegal, but it can be detrimental.
Here are some ways dating could be used against you while going through a divorce.
You Could Be Accused of An Affair
If you date before the marriage ends, your spouse could easily accuse you of having an affair. Technically, this claim would be true, as you are still married.
Family courts have a reputation for people acting out of spite. There’s an old saying among lawyers: “Criminal court is bad people on their best behavior, and family court is good people on their worst behavior.” You may trust that your spouse isn’t vengeful, but you also don’t want to give them ammunition against you.
If you start dating someone you knew before filing for divorce, it’s easier for your spouse to make infidelity accusations. They can claim that the affair began long ago, before the divorce began.
You Could be Accused of Wasteful Dissipation
When a couple divorces, the court must decide how to divide the marital assets. Most states use an equitable property division model. In this system, property is divided by fairness.
Nevada is one of nine states that still uses a community property division model. In this system, the state attempts to divide the marital assets equally, giving each spouse 50%.
Both models rely on the existence of marital assets, which is anything purchased during the marriage. Sometimes, a spiteful spouse intentionally wastes money, leaving the other with little to nothing after the divorce. This is an unscrupulous practice called wasteful dissipation.
If you start dating before your divorce settles, your spouse could accuse you of wasteful dissipation. They may claim that you are lavishly spending on your new lover, depleting the marital assets. Almost anything could be used as evidence. Imagine you buy a new outfit, go on a date with your new partner, and post a picture on social media. Simply by wearing these new clothes and displaying them online, your spouse and their attorney can spin a narrative that you are intentionally wasting money.
The Dangers of Baseless Accusations
The above scenarios and accusations may sound silly, and the court may agree that they are. Still, even outlandish, baseless accusations cause problems for you.
Regardless of its validity, any formal accusation requires an answer. Your attorney must investigate the claim and produce counterarguments. This requires gathering evidence. Documents are entered into evidence, and witnesses may be required to rebuke the accusations. All of these actions waste time and money. Remember, every step your attorney takes adds to your legal fees. This includes investigation, gathering evidence, and arguing your case in court.
Your expense only compounds if are paying your spouse’s legal fees. In that case, you’re spending money on their accusations and your attorney’s rebuttals. At worst, the opposing attorney may be guilty of “churning.” This is an unethical act where attorneys intentionally introduce bogus claims just to drag out the case. The longer they work on the case, the more money they get. It doesn’t matter to them if the accusations bear no fruit. They’ll get paid either way.
Ultimately, it’s best to avoid dating while getting a divorce. When it comes to legal matters, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You’ll have plenty of time to get back out there once the marriage finally ends.
If you need help with your divorce, our firm is here for you. Call us at (702) 899-2875 or contact us online.