Dos and don’ts on Dating during a divorce in the UK

During the course of a divorce many separating spouses may want to begin a new life. This might involve them beginning to date someone whilst their divorce proceedings are taking place. In essence everyone has the right to enjoy their life. Some people need another person in their life to make their life better. But should a person who is undergoing through a divorce begin dating? Our family lawyers discuss the do’s and don’ts of dating during a divorce.

Should you start dating before divorce is final?

Following a divorce many people would like to know about dating during divorce UK. A person who has recently separated will often want to know about the legal implications of dating and living with a new partner during divorce. People will often be aware that divorce can be a long-drawn process and may take years to settle. This is especially the case where financial settlement is concerned.

You may find yourself lonely, stressed, desirable or maybe you just want to have fun. Dating according to the urban dictionary is where two people who are attracted to each other spend time together to see if they also can stand to be around each other most of the time, if this is successful they develop a relationship. Dating is effectively social contact between 2 people.

If you are just getting to know a new person there may not seem to be anything wrong with this. Furthermore, there may not be any issues with dating once you have physically separated from your divorce. This could be once either one of you have left the marital home.

Can you date someone while getting a divorce?

Dating during divorce in the UK is a decision which a person has to take themselves. However, this decision of dating during divorce can impact your relationship with your former partner as well as your divorce proceedings.  

Dating during divorce may impact on your relationship with your separating partner. Your former partner may see your dating as rubbing salt in their wounds. If they see you with someone, they may try to make the divorce process difficult for you. Furthermore, you may need to remain amicable with your former partner for the sake of children. If they are aware of you dating this may cause further animosity which may affect any child proceedings relating to child custody or child contact.

Dating during divorce may not seem wrong but what about legally? There are some legal reasons which suggest why dating during divorce UK should be avoided. Our family lawyers will consider some of the implications below.

Is dating during separation adultery?

Adultery is voluntary sexual relations between an individual who is married and someone who is not the individual’s spouse.

This means if you are living with a new partner during separation your ex-partner could argue adultery if this was the cause of the breakdown of marriage.

Legally you are still married until your divorce is finalised.  If your ex-partner alleges your adultery is the reason for your marital breakdown this could have financial implications on your divorce and incur further costs. Furthermore, if your new partner is known to your ex-partner they could name your new partner in the proceedings.

How does living with a new partner affect financial settlement?

Many people who move on quickly after their separation often wonder whether living with a new partner could affect their financial settlement. Dating during divorce or living with a new partner could have significant effects on your financial settlement.

Your partners financial information may need to be disclosed as part of your financial disclosure to the court. This initially may seem unfair given that you have moved on in your life, but it is relevant when the courts consider your needs and your outgoings.

The courts consider both your and your spouses’ circumstances as well as your needs. It could possibly be argued that if you are living with a new partner during divorce your needs may be less than if you were not in a relationship. Moving in with a new partner might increase your living costs than when you were living alone. If your partner also earns an income the court will take this into consideration as this will be used to deal with the costs. This could mean that the courts view that you and your new partner will be sharing the costs of living. As a result, you will have more money available to pay a higher level of maintenance.

You may therefore want to consider carefully before moving in with a new partner before your finances are resolved. Ultimately it is up to the court to consider whether the income and assets of a new partner will be taken into consideration when considering a financial settlement. The courts will consider whether:

  • The relationship is stable. The longer and stable the relationship the more likely the assets of your new partner are likely to be taken into account.
  • Do the separating parties have sufficient assets between them to meet their needs without considering any new partners? If the marital pot has sufficient finances assets to re-house both separating partners, then it may not be necessary to consider the finances of any new partner. 
  • Whether the new partner has any significant assets. if a new partner has no capital and only have a modest income then their financial needs are unlikely to be considered. This is because it will make no difference to the outcome. On the other hand if the new partner has significant assets or is a millionaire, then their financial situation is far more likely to be raised

Does living with a new partner affect financial settlement if my partner has no income?

If you are dating during divorce and living with a new partner who has modest income or no income, it is unlikely that this will affect the financial settlement. The reason for this is that it will make no difference to the outcome. Whereas if you moved in with a multi-millionaire partner then their income is likely to be raised.

Does cohabitation affect divorce settlement?

Cohabitation can affect a divorce settlement.  If you cohabitate and move into your new partner’s home and they pay for all your outgoings you may be penalised. As a result, you may receive a lower settlement. This is because the courts will understand by cohabiting you are likely to share the burden of purchasing a property or running the property with your new partner.

Cohabitation can be considered by the courts when considering divorce settlement. However cohabitation is not to be treated like marriage. The financial position of the new partner in the equation may be considered. If one spouse has been cohabiting for a number of years and a stable relationship is evident the courts can decide to award less when deciding on the divorce financial settlement.

But what happens when you separate from your new partner following your financial settlement? If your financial settlement has been resolved by the court, then there will be nothing much you can do if you separate. It is therefore advisable to resolve any financial issues before beginning to cohabitate.

Cohabitation could affect the issue of your financial needs when considering your financial settlement. You may currently be cohabitating, however circumstances could change at any time. You do not want to be in a position where you receive a lower financial settlement due to your cohabitation. Once the cohabitation ceases to exist you may struggle financially. It is therefore important you carefully consider whether you should cohabitate during your divorce.

Does cohabitation affect spousal support while dating during divorce?

Spousal maintenance is where one spouse pays the other spouse following a separation to help with their maintenance and living costs. It is important to note that spousal maintenance can end in the following ways:

  • If the spouse receiving the maintenance remarries
  • Once the fixed term for which maintenance was order has ended
  • Or until a specific event such as children reaching the age of 16 or if the spouse receiving the maintenance becomes financially stronger.

Spousal maintenance orders do not automatically end on cohabitation. Cohabitation is not the same as marriage as cohabitation does not create a legal commitment.

Although spousal maintenance does not automatically end with cohabitation, it could be grounds to consider a variation. Spousal maintenance is variable and could be affected by a change of circumstances. If one of the spouses enters into a new relationship through cohabiting this could be seen as a change of circumstance. However, whether or not cohabitation will affect the spousal maintenance will need to be considered by the court together with the circumstances.

When considering cohabitation and spousal maintenance payments the courts will take into account:

  • the length of the relationship (the longer the period of cohabitation, the more likely the court is to find it to be a permanent and stable relationship)
  • the financial arrangements and degree of sharing of obligations and outgoings on the property.

After consideration of the above factors the courts could provide a number of outcomes. The courts have the power to reduce the spousal maintenance payment or shorten the duration for which the spousal maintenance should be paid. The courts also have the power to order for spousal maintenance payments to be stopped entirely.

What to consider before living with a new partner while dating during divorce

Before living with a new partner during divorce the implications of your new relationship should be considered. As we have seen entering into a new relationship and cohabitation can affect the divorce financial settlement. A party who cohabitates with a new partner could see a reduction in their financial settlement given that the courts can take into account the income and financial situation of a new partner.

Cohabitation could also be seen as a change in circumstance and may affect any spousal maintenance payments you are receiving. This results in you loosing the tax free income you could receive by way of spousal maintenance.

As well as causing financial implications, living with a new partner during your divorce could also have emotional setbacks. It could turn a relationship with your ex-partner sour and hostile. This could affect the time it can take to manage your divorce and resolve your financial settlement. It could also affect your relationship with your children as they may not happily welcome a new face in their life during this disturbing and emotional time of their parent’s separation.

Our family lawyers therefore advise that you should carefully consider whether you should enter into a new relationship during your divorce. Although it is not forbidden dating during divorce can have the impact of negatively affecting your divorce settlement.

Speak to our family law specialists today

At Kabir Family Law we specialise in family law. We have years of experience of dealing with divorce and divorce settlements. Contact us today if you would like advice and assistance on your divorce financial settlement. Speak to us today on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back.

With family lawyers in Newcastle and across the UK including York, Oxford, Northampton and London you can never be too far from our offices or local advice.

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1st and 3rd Floors
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London
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NN1 2JA

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