Dating during the divorce is a much more complicated matter. Although, in most cases the law in Ontario requires a couple to separate for a period of at least one year, before being eligible to apply for divorce; beginning or continuing an extra-marital relationship during that time is not advisable. A Toronto divorce lawyer will forewarn you that there may be personal and legal consequences.

Dating before one is officially divorced is not a legal argument to withhold or refuse access to children. However, there are a number of implications and consequences that can arise from your personal decision to maintain a new relationship.

The Ex-Spouse /Co-Parent Relationship
Toronto divorce lawyers know that there is never a simple explanation to why a marriage dissolves. Human beings are complex, and relationships are equally filled with intricacies and gradations of emotion. Divorces do not follow a generic pattern of conduct; ex-spouses sometimes act in unpredictable and unexpected ways. Nonetheless, one can envisage the negative reaction one’s ex-spouse will have to the other spouse’s dating during their divorce.

The single spouse may feel angry, betrayed, hurt, disrespected or apathetic. Dating during a divorce in most situations will alienate the other spouse. Toronto divorce lawyers work diligently to keep matters out of Family Court, especially when children are involved. By aggravating the ex-spouse with a new romance, out-of-court processes such as mutual agreement, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and settlement will undoubtedly become much more difficult, if not impossible. You or your ex-spouse may feel entitled to date, entitled to happiness, which in its own right is absolutely true. You and your ex-spouse deserve a full, healthy and happy life. Nevertheless, abstaining from overt dating is not for the benefit of your ex-spouse, but for
your own.

Ultimately, the best child custody agreements are born of parents who can agree, negotiate, and settle. A level of respect and cooperation is required at the mediation table. Dating during divorce is a likely way to turn a possibly amicable situation into an acrimonious one.

If all other avenues are impassable, you and your Toronto divorce lawyer will enter into a legal custody battle. It should be remembered that going to court for any matter is expensive and time consuming. Again, while it is not a crime to date while in midst of a divorce, a judge is less likely to view your personal decisions favourably. A judge’s opinion is very powerful. One should aim to present oneself in the best light possible to ensure ample parenting time. Dating during divorce may cast a shadow over the image you wish to present to the court.

Moreover, be prepared for personal details of your relationship to be brought to light and scrutinized. A trial is difficult for all parties, including one’s new romantic partner. The ensuing stress and pressure will likely cause strain on any new relationship.

In summary, dating during divorce is a personal choice, and a legal one at that. A Toronto divorce lawyer will likely suggest holding off on starting a new relationship until after the divorce is finalized. Like any legal advice, it is your decision to follow the advice of counsel, or not. If one decides to date during divorce, one must be prepared and aware of the possible consequences.

What Impact Could my Dating have on Child Custody during my Divorce?: Part II
What impact could my dating have on child custody after my Divorce?
Related: Dating After Divorce