Washington is a solid no-fault divorce state. The laws regarding divorce were changed so that those involved can be granted a divorce by claiming nearly anything as an irreconcilable difference. Although adultery or other possible legalities may not be used against you, dating may have different side effects on your divorce proceedings.

Remember, you are dealing with many emotional, financial, and parenting decisions in a divorce case. An otherwise amicable divorce may become emotionally charged and contentious when either ex-partner begins a new relationship before the divorce is finalized. It may make a divorce that both parties want harder to negotiate.

Establishing guidelines with the advice of an attorney experienced in family law can help. Formally agreed-upon conditions may be questioned when an ex-partner begins dating again and ignites explosive emotions. Be aware that it may not take much to light this fuse and negate what should have been a quick and easy divorce.

Divorce, or any emotionally charged shift, usually has a specific process people have to go through. Dating may not allow you to complete this psychological path, making it more challenging to move forward. The parties usually go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then finally, acceptance.

Going through a divorce may also affect the relationship with your new partner. A divorce case involves time, money, and many serious decisions that need to be made. It may affect your emotions and take time and emotional attention away from your new partner. He or she may even become involved in complexities neither of you expected. This may take what could have been a great relationship after the divorce and cause it to dissolve.

A divorce lawyer will counsel you on all the legal aspects of your case and may also be of considerable help with these more vague issues, like pre-divorce dating. At the very least, they may offer some guidelines that will keep the relationship from having a severe negative impact on your divorce case.

Will Dating Before a Divorce is Final Affect My Children or Custody of Them?

Even in no-fault divorce states, marital misconduct can be factored into decisions that must be made, depending on the circumstances involved. It is also possible for the new relationship to be factored into the division of property or the determination of spousal support.

This may potentially impact the amount the dating spouse could receive if he or she is living with a new partner who is helping them financially. This can, naturally, have a direct financial impact on the children’s lives.

Also, children are emotionally impacted during a divorce, and a parent having a new partner may cause them more distress and mental strain. While children are usually not involved in custody decisions, older children may be questioned, and their responses could affect the custody decision.

Adverse effects could be especially strong if the new partner creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for the child. The non-dating spouse may also be very reluctant to share custody of the child (or children) due to the fear that this new person may create an unsafe environment for the child or try to replace them as a parental figure.

Your lawyer should be consulted as soon as possible. By knowing the facts of any new relationship, they may advise that it is best to keep a new partner separate from children to avoid the possibility of the new relationship impacting custody decisions. Even if the new relationship is currently ongoing, your family lawyer will always try to do what is best for you and the outcome of any custody issues.

What Does it Mean to Be Legally Separated in Washington State?

If there is a chance that you might date before or during a divorce proceeding, there may be a way to minimize your legal risks. For example, legal separation in Washington state allows a couple to formalize a separation while remaining legally married. It is accomplished through a court order and is a legally binding consent decree. Legal separation is not a requirement in filing for divorce, and many couples can reconcile during this time or move on to divorce.

Although there is a mandatory waiting period of 90 days from the time you file for legal separation until the judge can act on your case, this road will give you a firm legal foundation for your divorce case and solidify many of the crucial decisions involved. Couples can use this time to negotiate the terms of the separation, including property division, financial issues, and child custody.

There are things you should try to avoid during a legal separation, such as:

● Permanently leaving your home unless there is potential harm to you and your children

● Involving your children in any conflict

● Threatening or becoming violent with your current spouse

● Changing the current financial situation or cutting off your spouse from financial aid

● Airing your situation or grievances on social media

The most important thing to remember is not to sign or agree to anything without consulting your lawyer. Only you and your attorney can thoroughly go through the details involved in your particular separation and/or divorce case and decide if this filing helps you in your fight for a brighter future for you and your family.