Is it Legal to Date While My Virginia Divorce is Still Pending?

By: John Whitbeck

[10.14.2020] The question of whether or not it’s legal to date while a Virginia divorce is pending is not uncommon. Unlike some other states, Virginia does not recognize legal separation. However, there is no law on the books that specifically prohibits you from dating while still legally married.

While no law prohibits it, this doesn’t mean you should be doing it. Virginia may not recognize legal separation, but it does recognize adultery and classifies it as a misdemeanor crime. Though the state rarely prosecutes adultery, it is important to understand that it is a possibility. 

Below are some of the things your Virginia family law attorney will discuss when you meet to go over your case: 

Dating Could Impact Some Court Decisions

As previously noted, dating while your divorce is pending is not specifically against the law. However, it is likely to impact some significant court decisions regarding your divorce and/or custody battle. If your ex is alleging adultery, dating while still legally married can certainly be considered when the judge makes some decisions in your case.

The first area where dating can impact your divorce is with property distribution. Proof of adultery could cause the judge to make decisions that leave more property to the non-cheating spouse. Virginia uses the theory of equitable distribution, meaning the court looks to split marital property and debts in a fair and equitable manner. If the court believes one spouse used marital assets on the person he/she had the affair with or on the new person he/she is dating, then the not-at-fault spouse might receive a larger share of the marital property. 

Adultery or dating while married could affect spousal support too. Virginia courts may opt not to award spousal support to the person who cheated or is currently in a new relationship. On the other hand, the court may decide to award the non-cheating spouse a higher amount. There are numerous factors that go into determining the spousal support amount, which is why it is essential to have a skilled divorce attorney on your side.

Seeing someone else while still married could impact child custody as well. In some cases, one spouse may push for physical custody because he/she does not want his/her child around a new partner so suddenly. If the person you are bringing home does drugs or is abusive, the court will likely have serious reservations in awarding any custody.

Dating Can Impact Settlement Negotiations

If you are trying to work on settling outstanding issues with your ex, dating during this time can derail any chance at an amicable resolution. Your ex may be inclined to hold out or let his/her jealousy get the best of him/her. A serious breakdown in communication may occur, resulting in the court having to decide on everything.

Contact a Virginia Family Law Attorney

If you need assistance with an upcoming or pending divorce, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or emailing clientservices@wblaws.com.

Related: Divorce