Can I Date During My Divorce in Texas?
If you are planning to file for divorce or have already filed your papers in court, you may be wondering, “Can I date during the divorce process in Texas?” While there is no law prohibiting you from dating while your divorce is pending, jumping back into the dating pool too soon may not be the best idea.
Many divorcing spouses are eager to start seeing new people before their divorce is final. Dating after filing for divorce can feel like a breath of fresh air for many divorcing men and women.
However, dating during your Texas divorce has the potential to negatively impact your divorce case because you could end up being accused of “adultery.” You should consult with a McLennan County divorce attorney to determine how dating during a divorce could affect your case.
What is ‘Adultery’?
In Texas, spouses can file for divorce on no-fault grounds or pursue a fault-based divorce. Adultery is listed as one of the grounds for a fault-based divorce under Texas law.
According to Texas Family Code § 6.003, when one spouse commits adultery, the courts may grant a divorce in favor of the spouse who was cheated on.
Under Texas law, a married person is committing adultery when they voluntarily have sexual intercourse with a person other than their spouse.
Your spouse can prove that you have been unfaithful by presenting such evidence as:
Photos and videos
Direct messages from social media
Bank or credit card statements
In Texas, courts may consider evidence of unfaithfulness even if the affair began after the couple separated and started living apart.
Is Dating During a Texas Divorce Considered ‘Adultery’?
Dating during a divorce could be considered “adultery” even if the spouses are not living together. Technically, you are still married to your spouse while your divorce case is pending.
Therefore, if you start dating during your divorce in Texas, you could be found guilty of committing adultery.
In the eyes of the law, you are considered married until the judge signs your Decree of Divorce. To avoid the adverse and unintended consequences, it could be a good idea to wait until your divorce is final.
However, whether or not it is safe to start dating while your divorce case is pending depends on how you define “dating.”
Keep in mind that Texas law defines adultery as voluntarily having sexual intercourse with another person. Going on dates without having sex, signing up on an online dating platform, or chatting/exchanging photos with people on Instagram and Facebook cannot be considered adultery.
How Dating During Divorce Can Affect Your Case
Dating other people and committing “adultery” while your divorce is pending could negatively affect your case. Dating during divorce could impact the following aspects of your divorce:
Your ability to obtain an uncontested divorce
While it is not common for adultery to affect child custody, cheating could impact an alimony award in Texas. If the cheating spouse is seeking alimony, they could be denied alimony regardless of their need for spousal support.
1. Your ability to obtain an uncontested divorce
If your spouse finds out that you started dating during divorce (or even before filing for divorce), your chances of obtaining an uncontested divorce may be slim.
Even if you and your spouse agree to end your marriage amicably, you do not know how your spouse would react if they knew that you began dating so soon. Dating during divorce could hurt your spouse’s feelings and turn your uncontested divorce into a contested one.
2. Property division
If you start dating while still legally married to another person (just because you filed for divorce does not make you “divorced” yet), your spouse may accuse you of adultery. If the court finds you guilty of adultery, the marital property may be divided in a manner that favors your spouse, not you.
Even if your adultery does not impact the award of community property, the court could order you to reimburse your spouse for any money you spent on your extramarital affair before finalizing the divorce.
3. Child custody
In Texas, judges may frown upon spouses who start dating before their divorce case is final, especially if the spouse has minor children. Your spouse may argue that you are acting irresponsibly or disregard the impact of your new romantic relationship on the kids.
This, as a result, could affect the custody award, which is known as conservatorship in Texas, and the amount of time you are allowed to spend with your children.
If your new partner moves in or stays overnight in the house where you live with your minor children, your soon-to-be-ex-spouse could argue that your behavior is immoral or inappropriate.
The judge may take all of these factors into account when awarding custody and conservatorship rights during a divorce.
Should You Date While Your Texas Divorce Case is Pending?
There is no right answer to that question. After weighing all pros and cons, it’s up to you to decide. If you and your spouse agree on all terms of your divorce and are pursuing an uncontested divorce, it’s probably a good idea to wait until your divorce case is final before you start dating.
If your spouse finds out about your new relationship while your divorce case is ongoing, they may become more combative and hostile, making your divorce more complicated than it has to be.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer in McLennan County
If you are pursuing an uncontested or contested divorce in Texas, the attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard can help. Our McLennan County divorce attorneys are committed to helping you strengthen your case and ensure that you achieve a favorable outcome in your divorce. We do not judge our clients if they committed adultery or started dating during a divorce.