California introduced the notion of no-fault divorces as far back as 1970. This law means that accusations – such as infidelity – should have no legal implications. However, if you want to start dating another person before your divorce is finalized, there may still be legal consequences. Although a judge will not consider your infidelity when granting the divorce, the financial impact infidelity has on your spouse and any impact on the children may have some effect on the court’s decisions. Even if your divorce was amicable up to now, if your soon-to-be ex-spouse realizes that you have already got your eye on a replacement, his or her attitude may change.
Impact on property distribution
California is a community property state. This means marital property, including income, belongs to both spouses equally. If you have spent any funds on an extra-marital affair, you have effectively removed it from the marital estate, and the judge may hold you responsible.
Impact on spousal support
The judge cannot punish an adulterous spouse because that would be punitive. However, if you and your new significant other decide to move in together before the divorce is finalized, the court will likely determine that you need less financial support under those circumstances.
Impact on child custody
Because child custody is based on the best interests of the child, infidelity has little effect on the court’s decision in this regard. Only when your relationship adversely effects your children may the court take that into consideration.
When divorcing couples draft parenting plans, new partners are not typically included from the outset. With your new relationship on the cards, drafting the parenting plan may become a stressful process. Furthermore, your children may feel they have to compete with your new partner for your love, while also having to cope with the trauma of your divorce.
Even if your divorce is amicable, and you feel moving on may cause no harm, it may be only a way to avoid dealing with your emotions. Dating may only postpone the healing process. Most people cannot form stable relationships before taking the necessary time to pick up the pieces. Starting a new relationship while you are in such a vulnerable state may result in your going through another breakup before you have made peace with this divorce.
Although you may feel the need for companionship and moral support from someone other than family and friends, it may be wise to avoid anything that may jeopardize your future financial stability. If you have any questions about how your actions can affect the outcome of your divorce, it may be beneficial to discuss your concerns with an experienced California family law attorney.