"Dating During Divorce Isn't Wise"
By Judge Anne Kass
few weeks ago the classified personals contained an ad that read,
"Male 53, unhappily married, divorce pending, seeks slim, unattached
female, 40-55, for long-term, caring relationship. Call..."
made me think of the hundreds of cases I've seen in divorce court in
which one of the spouses became intimately involved with someone new
before the divorce was final. Those cases were horribly acrimonious
and expensive because there is very little that can turn a divorce
case into a thermonuclear war quite like the involvement of one
spouse with a new companion.
New Mexico has had no-fault divorce since 1933, so the
not much interested in who is the good-spouse or the bad-spouse.
That won't make any difference in how property is divided, and it
won't change other aspects of the financial divorce.
However, these new relationships may be relevant to
custody and visitation decisions. One thing is for sure, if a parent
becomes involved with someone new, the children should not be
involved in that new relationship. If they do involved the children,
they should expect to hear about it in court. The court's concern
will be about emotional damage to the children, not the parent's
Psychological and sociological data tell us that an
intimate relationship which starts before a divorce is finalized has
very little chance of long-term survival. The new companion may be
serving primarily as a distraction, a way to avoid feeling the pain
that divorce causes.
When the new relationship dissolves, as it almost
certainly will, the children experience another loss, if they've
been made a port of that relationship. Children who suffer a series
of losses can end up with a sense that it is not safe to develop
close friendships. That can impact all of their friendships as well
as their won future attitudes about marriage. Mistrust, isolation
and loneliness are high prices for children to pay for their
parents' bad judgment.
People in the throes of a divorce are wise to avoid
any intimate relationships until well after the divorce is final.
They can save themselves a lot of aggravation and legal fees, if
nothing else. But whatever the grown-ups do to themselves, they
should absolutely avoid introducing any new companions to their
children until the divorce is over and until there is a solid
foundation for the new relationship with some reasonable degree of
probability that it will last.