Texas Laws About Having a Relationship Before a Divorce Is Final
By Jim Thomas
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Although there are no laws in Texas that forbid you to date before your divorce is official, it's a bad idea. There can be serious legal repercussions if you start a new relationship before your divorce is final, especially if you are battling with your soon-to-be former spouse about issues involving alimony, property or child visitation and custody rights. In addition to the possible legal implications, dating before your divorce is official raises thorny emotional and psychological issues.
Until your divorce is final, you are technically committing adultery if you enter into a new relationship. Although the chances of being charged with adultery are virtually nonexistent, some judges in Texas do not look favorably upon such conduct when they decide the contested issues of your divorce. Thus, adultery may be catastrophic to your interests in some cases and irrelevant in others. If you are still having sexual relations with your spouse as well as your new boyfriend or girlfriend, you risk receiving a disproportionately small share of marital property. If you give your spouse a sexually transmitted disease, kiss even more property goodbye. However, if you and your spouse have simply "moved on," and the marriage is clearly over for all intents and purposes, some judges might view the relationship as irrelevant.
A new relationship during the divorce process could cost you monetary support and/or hurt your chances for obtaining the best outcome in a division of the marital property. For example, if you are living with a new boyfriend or girlfriend before your divorce is finalized, such conduct might reduce potential alimony payments, since you are now sharing expenses with someone else and presumably don't need as much support. In addition, adultery might result in an unequal division of property between you and your spouse.
Custody and Visitation Issues
It is not wise to date before your divorce is final as it might damage your standing with the court in a child custody dispute. Therefore, you should not introduce your children to your boyfriend or girlfriend or spend any money considered to be community property on the new relationship.
Angering Your Spouse
If your intent is to anger your spouse, starting a new relationship before your divorce is final is a good way to do so, and your spouse is likely to retaliate in some way. Instead of a peaceful, no-fault divorce, you could become embroiled in a nasty fight with your spouse accusing you of adultery and seeking sole custody of the kids.
Starting a relationship too soon is likely to cause emotional distress and perhaps long-term psychological issues for your kids. You aren't doing yourself any favors either. Relationships that start during the divorce process seldom last. You are too emotionally distraught to make rational decisions about a new relationship during this period.
- Gregory Family Law: Denton Divorce Attorney
- Divorce and Family Law in Tarrant County, Texas: Why You Should Wait to Date
- Women'sDivorce.com: Dating During Divorce
- BBT Legal Notes Can I Date Before My Divorce Finalizes?
- Lawyers.com: Divorce and Dating
- Michael P. Granata: Property Division Cases and Lawyers
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.