South Carolina family law attorneys get asked the question all the time: “Can I date during my divorce?” The advice boils down to three words: Don't do it! Most good divorce lawyers strongly recommend that clients their do not date during the pendency of the divorce action because dating during divorce is never a good idea.
Even “innocent” dating that was not the result of an affair can provide ammunition to the other side. A judge might hear about the dating and begin to believe that there's something more to it than simple dating post-separation, and that perception could add unnecessary complications to your case.
First things first, if you're dating (or your spouse thinks you might be), you should be prepared for being asked about your dating life while under oath at a deposition or even at trial. Whatever you do, don't lie if you are asked the question, as doing so would constitute perjury and open up a whole new set of problems for you.
The most important consideration when discussing dating and divorce is that post-separation conduct, including dating, can be used as evidence of adultery that took place during the marriage. If child custody or alimony are issues in your case, this can potentially have disastrous consequences. For instance, it is possible that having a boyfriend or girlfriend stay overnight when your children are visiting could result in you losing custody or facing restrictions on your visitation.
Another important consideration is how dating post-separation can negatively impact the settlement process. Even couples that start off hoping for an amicable resolution are often derailed by jealousy or anger that is often stirred up by one spouse moving on with their romantic life. At best, your infidelity can cause your spouse hurt and embarrassment. At worst, it will provoke feelings of anger and revenge, which will greatly complicate your settlement negotiations with your spouse.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of a separation, divorce, support, visitation, or child custody issue, you need the help of an experienced South Carolina family law attorney to guide you through the difficult process.