In Georgia, if you engage in any form of sexual activity with someone who is not your spouse before filing for divorce, you have committed adultery. If you do so after you and your spouse have separated, Georgia courts will most likely consider it irrelevant to aspects such as property division. However, dating during separation may have an effect on alimony, child custody, and visitation decisions in a contested divorce.
How Alimony Is Impacted by Dating During Separation
Dating during separation can affect your ability to receive alimony if your spouse claims that you started the relationship prior to filing for divorce. If you are seeking spousal support and your spouse claims that you are responsible for the marriage failing, the judge may deny your request.
Dating can also affect alimony if you decide to move in with your new partner. If a judge finds out you have moved in with a love interest, she may reduce your alimony or refrain from awarding it at all.
How Will Dating Affect Child Custody or Visitation?
Under Georgia law, when awarding child custody, judges must act in the best interests of the child. Judges must make sure that they are sending the child to live with the parent(s) who will best be able to raise the child and give her a good, stable home.
If a judge hears that your new partner has been staying with you when the children are there, she may believe that you are not working toward creating a loving, stable environment for your children.
In addition, children 14 years or older can decide which parent they want to live with in Georgia. So, if your child is angry with you for moving on so quickly, or if your new partner makes her uncomfortable for whatever reason, she may decide she wants to live with her other parent.
If a judge only awards you visitation and she finds out that your new partner is there during your time with your children, she may place restrictions on your visitation time to ensure you are creating the best environment for your child.
It is unlikely that dating someone new will affect how a judge decides on certain aspects like property division or child support; however, if you begin to date and your spouse finds out, it may cause emotions to run high and make discussions more volatile.
So Can I Date?
Technically, yes. But you should think long and hard about the possible repercussions it will have on both your divorce and your family.
If you plan to start a family with your new partner, be sure you consider how this decision affects everyone, not just you. Consider how it will affect your children. Your divorce can be an extremely traumatic time for your children and they need time to adapt to their new life, just as you do.
In addition, if you have a child with your new partner before a judge signs the decree, it could complicate matters or prolong divorce proceedings. You may have to wait until you have the child before you can legally divorce as the court must establish paternity for child support and child custody (because you are still married, there is a good chance the court will believe the child is your husband’s.).
If you really want to date, you can do so; however, it is usually within your best interest to stay out of any new relationships until a judge signs that final decree and you have established that you and your family are ready to bring someone new into your lives.
For more questions about dating during separation or any other aspects of your divorce, such as child custody or support, be sure to reach out to the family law lawyers at Ward Law Firm today.
Contact us at 770-383-1973 for your REAL Case Analysis today.