Dating and ‘moving on’ while separated is a personal choice that you may or may not be ready for. If you do decide to date or get involved with someone while separating from or divorcing someone else, here’s the legal implications.
What is separation?
Separation is a legally recognized parting of spouses or the agreed end of cohabitation when the husband or wife leaves the marital home. It can be cited as the grounds for divorce after spouses have been separated for a period of one year.
We’ve written a blog post about your rights when separating, which we recommend reading if you are separating or considering separating from your spouse.
Can you date while separated?
Yes. If you’re ready to, you are free to date other people while separated. Your separation agreement is critical though because if the timing of the relationship comes into question during your divorce your relationship may be considered as an affair or adultery.
When can you start dating?
You should ensure that you are legally separated before you start dating, otherwise your new relationship could be considered adultery. You will want to have the separation agreement signed before you start dating, to make things clear. Find out more about what a separation agreement should contain.
Talk to your ex
Even though you’re separated, you’re not entirely removed from your previous relationship. Consider whether dating will affect the relationship you have with your ex.
Though you may feel like it’s none of their business, you might want to consider speaking to your ex about your dating plans to let them know. Having clear and open communication with few surprises can help you proceed through the divorce process. When feelings are hurt and emotions are high, it can be much harder to have an amicable divorce.
If there are children from the relationship, dating could make your separation and divorce more complicated.
Moving in with your new partner
There is nothing stopping you from moving in with your new partner during separation or divorce, but you might want to consult with your lawyer before you do.
Most divorce lawyers will advise against moving in with a new partner, especially if you have children. During the divorce proceedings you could face additional scrutiny over your parenting arrangements if it could be argued that your child/children would be harmed by coming into contact with the new partner.
There is also a financial consideration. When moving in with a new partner it could be suggested that your expenses will be less than your ex-spouse because you’ll be sharing the costs with your new partner. This could affect the distribution of assets or the calculation of support payments. And, if you’ve started to receive CRA benefits after separation, you may no longer be entitled to them after you move in with a new partner.
Getting remarried after divorce
It is against the law to be married to more than one person at a time. You must wait until your divorce is finalized before getting remarried.
Your new relationship could complicate the divorce process, and put pressure on your new partner. We always recommend trying to keep the divorce process as amicable as possible, and you entering a new relationship could affect that.
Legal implications of dating while separated
It can be helpful to walk through some ‘worst case scenarios’ when talking about the legal implications of dating while divorcing. It’s these situations that you want to avoid:
- Having your parenting arrangements challenged
- Having your settlement adjusted because of this new relationship
- Going to court simply because feelings are hurt, emotions are high and your ex-partner wants to make things more difficult for you.
- Don’t even consider dating until you have your formal separation agreement in place. Once your separation agreement is in place you are legally OK to date but we generally recommend against it.
- When you do start dating, take it slow. All details of your relationship may be scrutinized by a judge. Your new partner may be depositioned to talk about it. Your children may be questioned about it as well.
- Avoid any pregnancies before you’ve finalized the divorce. A new baby will delay your case until paternity can be determined and parenting arrangements and support requirements determined.
- Find some good friends to help you get out and socialize to combat any feelings of loss and isolation.
Feel free to arrange an appointment to discuss your specific situation with one of our family law experts.