Dating During the Divorce Process

 Posted on January 03, 2023 in Divorce

wheaton divorce lawyerMany individuals who are going through a divorce often start dating other people before their case is finalized. While it is great that they feel emotionally ready to take on a new relationship, there could be potential consequences to dating while also unwinding the marriage with their current spouse. Although Illinois law does not prohibit dating during the divorce process, that does not mean that dating will not present its own set of challenges for your case, especially when there are children involved. So, for those who are thinking of dating during divorce, this blog will discuss four important considerations to keep in mind before doing so.

  1. The Impact Dating May Have on Your Children

If you have children, dating during divorce can be tricky and sometimes confusing for them. During the divorce process, children often need stability as it is not just a vulnerable time for you, but also for them. For many kids, the thought of their parents divorcing is a difficult pill to swallow because it raises concerns and anxiety over possible changes to their current lifestyle (i.e. which parent they are going to live with, how often they will see the other parent etc.). It can also create feelings of isolation from peers who have intact families or married parents. Therefore, introducing them to a new partner can sometimes make an already difficult time worse. It is important to be sure that the relationship is serious before introducing them to your new significant other. With that said, introducing your children to a new partner may also have a positive impact on them if your children like and trust your new significant other. 

In addition to the emotional impact dating may have on your children, you should also consider the practical consequences it may have on your divorce case. Illinois law requires that a Court allocate parenting time in accordance with the children’s best interest. When determining what is in a child’s best interest, a Court may consider how your new dating relationship affects the children during your parenting time. 

The plain fact that you are dating a new partner in itself is not a reason to limit your parenting time. However, if your spouse is concerned that your significant other may somehow pose a serious endangerment to your children, they may attempt to restrict your significant other from being present during your parenting time. This is typically seen in more extreme circumstances where a significant other has issues with drugs and alcohol or has a dangerous criminal history which may affect the children. Generally though, both parents should exercise caution and act in the best interests of the children when introducing their kids to a new partner and having them present during their parenting time. 

  1. Potential Increase in Animosity With Your Spouse

For some, dating a new partner before the divorce case is finalized can trigger significant feelings of jealousy, bitterness, or animosity from your current spouse. This is made even more difficult today with the rise in social media and available posts about a new relationship. If a spouse becomes upset over your new relationship, it can have an extremely negative impact on your ability to co-parent or negotiate a settlement during the process. Often times, dating can cause the other spouse to become unreasonable during negotiations as a way to punish or get back at the other party. That type of behavior only means that the divorce proceedings could be dragged out and increase attorney’s fees and cost. 

So, it is important to remain neutral and avoid flaunting a new relationship if possible where you believe it may give rise to a negative reaction from your current spouse. 

  1. Possible dissipation issues

Although you may have emotionally moved on from your marriage, you are still legally considered married until your divorce is finalized. Therefore, any money you spend on a significant other, while you are still married, is considered marital money. When someone is spending marital funds on a significant other, it can raise concerns about possible dissipation. 

Illinois Courts define dissipation as the “use of marital property for one spouse’s benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Spending money on a significant other, that is not your current spouse, is considered a “purpose unrelated to the marriage.” Therefore, if you are spending money on dates, trips, hotels, gifts, or other items for your significant other, it can be considered dissipation. 

If your spouse believes that you are dissipating marital property, they can file a Notice of Dissipation with the Court. You will then have the burden of proving that the money you spent was not on a boyfriend or girlfriend. This, of course, costs time and money that can delay the litigation and distract from other more important issues that need to be resolved in order to finalize your case. If the Court finds that dissipation has occurred, it will determine what amount of the funds that were dissipated should be awarded to your spouse as part of their share of the marital estate. 

  1. Implications of Dating on Maintenance

If you are the spouse entitled to receive maintenance, dating can significantly impact your spousal support. Illinois law is clear that maintenance can be permanently terminated when the recipient spouse begins “cohabitating” with a significant other. Dating, alone, is not considered cohabitation. In fact, living together is not always considered cohabitation either. Rather, cohabitation is determined based on the facts of each individual case. The Court will consider a variety of factors when determining whether a spouse is cohabitating, including but not limited to: (1) the length of the relationship, (2) the amount of time the couple spends together, (3) the nature activities in which the couple engages, (4) where the couple spends vacations/holidays together, and (5) whether the couple is living together. The Court may also consider the depth of the financial ties between a spouse and their new partner. For example, if your spouse and their new partner are sharing bank accounts or other funds, this may be considered when determining whether cohabitation is occurring. As another example, if your spouse purchased a new home with their significant other and they are both listed on the title and mortgage to the residence, this may weigh more heavily in favor of a finding of cohabitation. Therefore, if you are the spouse receiving maintenance, you should be cautious of how you proceed in your dating life, unless you are prepared for your maintenance award to be terminated. 


If you are considering dating throughout the divorce process or you are married to someone who has started dating a new significant other, you should consult with an attorney to understand how that decision may impact your case. McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C. offers free thirty-minute consultations and is experienced in handling these matters.

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