Many divorces take much longer than most couples expect, even if they're on good terms and work together to resolve their differences. One of the reasons for why divorces take so long is that New Jersey imposes a mandatory waiting period on most types of divorces. Even if you are filing on grounds of irreconcilable differences, you and your spouse must have been living apart for 18 months before you can file the complaint. In the meanwhile, you may develop feelings for another person, especially if he or she is supportive of your marital struggles. Although it's not illegal to date during the course of your divorce, you may be wondering if doing so will compromise your settlement or the outcome of your trial.
There's no one definitive answer to this question, but you should be aware that your personal life may be used against you during the trial. This is frequently the case with vindictive spouses, especially if the divorce involves adultery. Of course, you will not be denied an equitable settlement just because you are dating someone, but the circumstances surrounding your relationship may need to be examined by the court. For example, normal dating behaviors such as going out to dinner and buying your partner giftsiii5y be viewed negatively depending on where the money is coming from. If your spouse can show that you are using marital funds for the benefit of your new relationship, this could possibly influence the court's decision on alimony and property division.
While spending money on a few dates isn't likely to jeopardize your case, you should keep the relationship as casual as possible until your divorce is finalized. This means using discretion when it comes to talking about or broadcasting your relationship. If you are dealing with a vindictive spouse, for example, you may want to refrain from posting photos and messages about your partner on your social media accounts. It may seem unfair, but it's more important to resolve your divorce as quickly as possible, especially if you are dealing with custody and alimony issues. These issues will become even more problematic if you are living with this other person. Keep in mind that you are still married; while you are in the middle of a divorce, being so eager to move on may come across as distasteful. Even more important is the fact that another able-bodied adult in the house most likely means another source of income. Your spouse is likely to use this against you when it comes to alimony, and perhaps even custody arrangements. If there is anything at all questionable or unsavory about this person, your spouse may very well bring it up in court in order to win primary custody.
These are, of course, hypothetical circumstances that may not be relevant to your own situation. To find out how your personal life may affect the outcome of your divorce, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.