One of the most common questions divorce lawyers in Virginia (or anywhere for that matter) get from clients is if it is okay to start dating during divorce proceedings. To be clear, there is no law against dating while married; however, there is a law against adultery. Dating or pursuing a relationship while married is a major factor leading to a divorce, but dating while you are in the process of getting a divorce can indeed have some negative consequences for you in the divorce itself.
Adultery and Divorce in Virginia
Although dating itself does not qualify as adultery, it should be said that adultery does have an impact on divorce in Virginia. If adultery is proven by one spouse, the couple can obtain a divorce without a waiting period. Under Virginia’s no-fault divorce law, if there is not a fault based ground for the divorce such as adultery, the couple must live apart continuously for at least six months if no children are involved, or one year if children are involved before even initiating the divorce process.
Note that adultery is a misdemeanor crime in Virginia. It is rarely, if ever, prosecuted, but should nonetheless be noted.
Dating Could Have Some Effect on Divorce Rulings You Receive
Again, dating while married is itself not against the law, and it likely will have little effect on what a judge might rule in your case, but proof of adultery in the marriage could have a big effect on certain rulings.
In the area of property distribution, proof of adultery may affect the judges distribution of marital assets such as real estate, savings, retirement accounts, vehicles and other property. Virginia uses what is called “equitable distribution” of marital property, which means courts can look at a variety of factors to determine an equitable or fair distribution. Oftentimes, courts will go for a 50/50 split between the spouses of property, but proof of adultery could persuade a judge to give more property to the other spouse.
Adultery could also affect spousal support, as Virginia courts may sometimes choose not to award spousal support to a spouse who has cheated during the marriage, or may award a lower amount. Remember, though, many factors affect a spousal support award so speak to a lawyer regarding your options.
Finally, in the area of child custody, the courts will always look at a wide variety of factors in determining where a child should reside, including who else will be in a potential residence. If “dating” means that there is an unsafe individual in your house much of the time, or one who exposes the child to things such as drugs, a judge may be hesitant to award you custody.
Dating and the Settlement Process
An area in which dating is more likely to directly affect your divorce is not so much with how a judge would view it, but rather your spouse from whom you are divorcing.
This is because, wherever possible, reaching a settlement agreement with your spouse regarding your divorce is preferable to litigating matters in front of a judge, as this will save on legal fees, help you obtain your divorce quicker, and reduce the drama you have to endure. With a settlement agreement, you and your spouse will reach agreements on all matters such as property distribution, spousal support, child custody, and child support. Once an agreement is reached, a judge need only review it and sign it.
If you want to date during the time you are not yet divorced, you will want to ask yourself whether doing so might prevent you and your spouse from being able to reach a settlement agreement quickly. Emotions can run high in a divorce, and a spouse seeing his or her spouse with another person can cause anger, sadness, and a host of other emotions that might lead to an unwillingness to work with that spouse in reaching a settlement agreement.
Again, dating is not per se wrong while getting a divorce, but it may hurt your interests in some cases.
Schedule a Consultation With a Virginia Family Law Attorney Today
At Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC in Fredericksburg, we will guide through all of your questions regarding all aspects of divorce and help you work towards a favorable outcome in your family law matter. To schedule a consultation with one of our Virginia family law attorneys, contact Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC at 540.642.1766.