During a divorce proceeding, most couples have seperated. And before a divorce is legally finalized, many couples began living their individual and independent lives. As such, some individuals may feel ready to jump back into the dating game – especially if they’ve been separated from their spouse for a considerable amount of time – before the divorce is final. While choosing to date prior to being officially divorced is a personal decision, it may have legal consequences. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael F. Mimno can tell you what you need to know.
Dating While Married is Considered Adultery
If you have a romantic relationship with someone other than your spouse while still married under Massachusetts law, you have committed adultery. Committing adultery holds no criminal penalties, but it can have an affect on a number of things during the divorce proceeding, including support payments, property distribution and child custody/parenting issues.
Understanding How Dating Can Affect Grounds for Divorce in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, there are seven at-fault grounds for divorce, as well as one no-fault ground for divorce referenced in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 2o8 Section 1, 1Q and 1B. One of the at-fault grounds for divorce listed by the statute is adultery. If your spouse decides to file an at-fault divorce based on adultery rather than a no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable breakdown of the marriage (agreed on by both parties), then the divorce proceedings may be lengthier, and therefore more time consuming and expensive.
Dating Before Divorced and Spousal Support Payments
While the Massachusetts appellate courts have ruled that alimony cannot be denied based solely on one spouse’s adulterous actions, it is not uncommon for a judge to consider adultery when determining an alimony amount, particularly if joint money was squandered during the course of the affair. Essentially if an affair results in the dissipation of marital assets, then an alimony amount may be reduced to an amount lower than what it otherwise would have been for the sake of fairness and equity.
Can adultery affect a child custody order?
Massachusetts judges must make child custody orders based on the best interest of the child according to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208, Section 28. As such, a parent’s extramarital affair will not be considered, unless the affair has in some way – or will in some way – impair the child’s best interests. Adultery will not affect court order child support payments in Massachusetts.
An Andover Divorce Attorney Can Tell You More
Dating before a divorce is finalized generally isn’t a good idea, at least from a legal standpoint. If you have questions about how dating may affect the outcome of your divorce, or if you need a legal representative during the divorce proceedings, don’t hesitate to call the divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael F. Mimno. Reach us now to learn more at 978-470-4567.