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
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 Parent-Child Relationship
The legal definition of divorce: the dissolution of the marriage of two individuals can be a bit of a misnomer when there are children involved.
It is imperative to remember, all of your actions and the actions of your spouse will affect your child(ren), whether directly or indirectly. During the process of divorce, your child(ren) will be in an extra-sensitive state and particularly perceptive to changes.
If one parent is dating during the divorce, but has withheld this information from his/her child, the child will likely find out. If he/she discovers his/her parent’s new relationship from the other parent, a stranger or independently; the child will likely feel hurt, betrayed, angry, abandoned and deceived.
If one parent is dating during the divorce and has decided to share this information with the child(ren), it will come very soon after the pronouncement of the separation. The proximity of the two conversations: Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce; and Mommy/Daddy has a new significant other; will be incredibly stressful for your child(ren). Your child(ren) may move into a narrative of abandonment and desertion, “You are leaving my family for another family.”
Be prepared for resistance from your child/children. He/she/they may feel alienated at this time. Such feelings will be magnified if one parent has already moved on to a new chapter of their life. As a result, your child(ren) may express a clear preference as to which parent he/she/they want(s) to live with. His/her/their anger will likely translate into vocal rebellion against the new romantic relationship. One runs the risk that the child(ren) will want to spend less time with the newly coupled parent. Unfortunately, dating so soon after breaking the news of the divorce to your child(ren) will have detrimental effects.
These detrimental effects will be of great substance and weight during a custody hearing in front of a judge. The best interests of the child(ren) are paramount. A judge will take into onsideration a variety of factors. The child’s/children’s attitude about a parent’s new significant other would be paramount since it may have a bearing on a child’s psychological and emotional welfare. A judge does not engage in a black-and-white calculation, but negotiates a fine balance between factors. Dating during divorce and the consequent effect on the child may likely tip the scale in favour of the other parent.
As a result, a Toronto divorce lawyer may foresee the newly coupled parent being awarded less parenting time and thus higher child support payments. Taking into account the personal finances of each parent includes the presence of a new girlfriend or boyfriend. The judge may be persuaded to deviate from the standard Ontario child support grid, if it is clear that the newly coupled parent shares expenses with his/her new partner.
It is very important to consult with a Toronto divorce lawyer before moving in with a new partner. If your ex-spouse is or will be living with their new partner before the divorce is finalized, seek advice from your Toronto divorce lawyer immediately. A change in living situation that includes a new partner may drastically change spousal and child support obligations.
In summary, dating during divorce is a personal choice; but can have far-reaching implications on the ex-spouse, the current partner, and most importantly, the child(ren). The parent-child(ren) relationship may suffer as a result of such personal decisions. Accordingly, your child’s possible resentment may have a negative effect on the awarded child custody agreement. Be sure to discuss these issues thoroughly with your Toronto divorce lawyer before making any impulsive decisions.
What Impact Could my Dating have on Child Custody during my Divorce?: Part I
What impact could my dating have on child custody after my Divorce?
Related: Dating After Divorce
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