Can I Date Another Person if My Divorce is Not Finalized?

If you’ve separated from your spouse and plan to file for divorce, there are a few things you need to be aware of in regards to dating if you are contemplating on seeing someone before your divorce is finalized. While you may be under the impression that you are free to date whomever you want now that you and your spouse aren’t living together, Maryland laws don’t exactly see it the way. The fact is, if you want to date someone and still be in compliance with the law, you must be divorced first. We recognize that simply isn’t the way the many divorce unfold, so we are prepared to deal with this complication and minimize the negative repercussions.

The truth is, if you are still  married, but have been separated for a few months already and have begun to date someone else, your spouse can accuse you of adultery. Technically, it is  a crime, but more realistically, it  could change the outcome of your divorce. Clearly, if your spouse finds out about the adultery, it will change the dynamics of the divorce process and make negotiations to resolve the matter out of court much more difficult.  The existence of another adult in your life, adultery or no adultery, can impact the proceedings. For instance, if your spouse can prove that you brought your children around your girlfriend/boyfriend or that you are spending more time with your partner than you are with your kids, that could impact how child custody is determined. Additionally,  if you are caught  spending marital funds  on your new partner, it  could become an issue during the divorce proceedings. Sharing living expenses with another adult could impact a decision on alimony, too. Rather than put yourself in a difficult situation or at risk of losing a custody battle, it is best to be discreet until the divorce is finalized or a marital settlement agreement has been executed.

How do I file for divorce?

In order to obtain a divorce  in Maryland, in most circumstance you must have been separated from your spouse for at least 12 months, unless your situation qualifies you to file under another ground, such as adultery [Source: Maryland Courts].  Given the fact that it may take the court nearly a year to schedule the final divorce hearing in contested cases, your lawyer may choose to file for the divorce long before the full year of separation has run. If you are proceeding for a divorce based upon a 12 month separation,  you and your spouse must have been living apart and must not have engaged in any sexual activity during the year, unless you can proceed under the grounds of “mutual consent”. This recent additional grounds for divorce requires a full financial settlement between the parties with all children being over 18 years old. Also, Maryland has a procedure to obtain a limited divorce, which is generally applicable to the situation where the one year period of separation has not run. Under a limited divorce decree, the parties are still husband and wife but the court can resolve custody, child support, alimony and use and possession of the marital home. To proceed for a divorce, a lawsuit needs to be initiated with the filing of a complaint.  You will need to submit all the required documentation and present the proper evidence and testimony before it can be finalized. Hopefully, your lawyer has obtained a written agreement   on all the legal issues. These include, custody and support,   the division of  assets, including retirement benefits, resolving alimony,  including  the proper waiver, if applicable,  certain tax issues, , and health insurance matters for all family members

The reality is, if you can’t come to terms on certain matters, your divorce will only take longer to finalize, and it could get ugly.

Given our years of experience in handling divorce cases, it is clear to us that it is always in your best interests to have a divorce lawyer in Rockville working with you each step of the way. The reason being is that not all divorce matters are easy to settle. Sometimes, one parent claims to be more fit to care for the children and demands full custody. In other instances, you might find that your spouse is asking that they receive more assets than they are actually entitled to receive. In most instances, the parties won’t be able to identify the many issues that should be addressed let alone contemplate the options to be considered that we recognize due to our years of training and experience.

To be sure your best interests are always put first, and that you avoid missteps that can complicate the process, we suggest you contact us to learn more about how one of our Rockville, MD divorce lawyers would be beneficial to your case and how Barkley & Kennedy can help make the process easier for you to get through.


You can reach Barkley & Kennedy at:
51 Monroe Street, #1407
Rockville, MD 20850
301-251-6600