Negotiating the highs and lows of the dating game can be a complicated affair at the best of times. However when your partner happens to be in the midst of divorce proceedings, there can be even more issues to work through. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are dating someone who is going through a divorce.
Make sure you have the facts
Sometimes a person might say that he/she is going through a divorce when what they really mean is that they are still considering getting one. Such a date may be ready to move you with a sob story about how mean, unfaithful their spouse is when the reality may be entirely different. So before you find yourself drawn into an unhappy situation, get the real picture. Ask your partner if he/she has actually filed for divorce and not merely seeing a lawyer or checking with his/her shrink. Even when your partner seems genuinely committed to getting a divorce, he/she might back away eventually by deciding to give his/her marriage another chance or when confronted with the possibility of losing the kids. Get the full story before you start seriously dating a partner who for all legal purposes may not be single at all.
Get to know the legal terms
Different places have different laws governing marriage and divorce. For instance the state of California in USA, has a process called bifurcation which allows partners to be restored to the status of single persons within six months of filing for divorce. This is so that one can get back to a normal social life while the legal process of divorce follows its own course. Above all you need to keep in mind that filing for divorce is not the same thing as being finally divorced. It is just the initiation of the legal process of divorce, the beginning of the end of the marriage so to speak. This in turn means that until the process is through your partner and his/her spouse are still married for all legal purposes. The marriage is usually only over when the parties filing for divorce are both restored to the status of single persons at the completion of the divorce process. So before you start taking seriously the new person in your life, check with them their actual marital status since this might have a bearing on the validity of your relationship.
Limited opportunities for romance
Your partner may have actually filed for divorce but dating might be difficult if only for practical reasons. This is especially awkward if your partner is still living in the marital home with the estranged spouse. This might not only make dating something of a strain but might also have legal implications. However if your partner has his/her own place to stay and is formally separated, it is naturally easier to you both to enjoy personal space.
When it gets worse
Dating someone who is going through a divorce may at times involve legal hassles. In some cases, dating before the finalization of the divorce process may be construed as infidelity on the part of your partner and he/she may have to explain in the court why they couldn’t wait before the divorce was finalized. Again if your partner is already contesting the divorce case against his/her estranged spouse, matters might get even worse. The resentment and hurt that is already there will be compounded many times over once the spouse finds that your partner has begun seeing other people even before the divorce is through. And the last thing you need at this point is an angry soon-to-be-ex who is determined to make things as difficult as possible for your partner, especially in matters like financial settlement, alimony and child support. So take it easy and let your partner focus on getting over with the paperwork. Keeping off an overt romantic relationship at this point will not only speed up the divorce process but leave less of a financial liability for your partner.
Reasons behind the divorce
When you are dating someone going through a divorce, it is only natural that you would want to know the reasons for the split. However this is a very complex situation and needs to be handled with utmost delicacy. On one hand you are entitled to the truth but at the same time urging your partner to reveal all might backfire and you might come off as nosey, nagging or insensitive. So limit yourself only to questions that are necessary and make them as objective as possible, like what cause the break-up, who was the one to file for divorce, what will happen to the kids if there are any and so on. Remember that while you don’t want to come off as intrusive, you have a right to know the facts. This is so that you are not only better prepared to love and support this person but also know what a future relationship with him/her entails. Someone who has cheated on or abused his/her spouse might not shy away from doing the same to you.
A person who is going through a traumatic experience as divorce will some time or other display symptoms of stress, anxiety and even depression. You need to be emotionally prepared in order to cope with a vast fluctuation of moods and feelings in your partner. Apart from being psychologically devastating a divorce can also be financially draining. You need to understand that your partner might have other financial commitments like alimony or child support once the divorce comes through which in turn will mean not having enough disposable income to invest in your own relationship.
Finally ensure your own safety and integrity in the relationship. See to it that your partner is not merely dating you on the rebound. If he/she is just trying to get back at an estranged spouse by dating you, it definitely means that your partner has not yet resolved his/her feelings about the breakup and might even entertain secret hopes of getting back together with the former spouse. Alternately your partner may be using your love in order to find support through this difficult time and once he/she is strong enough, may have no real need of you. Having said that there is no harm in dating a warm-hearted, sincere person who is on his/her way out of a bad marriage, provided he/she is determined to make a new positive beginning.