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Can You Date During a Divorce in Virginia?

It is no secret that going through a divorce is stressful, painful, and emotional. It will feel like your life is falling apart. It is also no secret that, given what you may be going through, dating is very tempting. 

Technically, there is nothing stopping you from dating during a divorce in Virginia. But from a legal perspective, it is generally not a good idea for the following reasons:

1) Adultery is a crime in Virginia. Dating during divorce is not a crime, but sleeping with someone while married is, pursuant to Virginia Code Section 18.2-365. It is a Class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $250.00. You can’t go to jail for committing adultery, however. While adultery is rarely prosecuted, it can still have a big impact on your divorce case. 

2) Adultery is grounds for divorce in Virginia. If your spouse can prove that you slept with someone during your marriage, a judge can grant your divorce based on that ground. Virginia is one of the remaining states with “fault grounds” for divorce as opposed to only “no-fault grounds” for divorce. Because adultery is still a crime, you would have the right to exercise your 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. But a new law says that a Judge can make a negative inference from that decision, meaning a judge can take it as evidence that you did, in fact, commit adultery.

3) Dating during divorce in Virginia can impact the amount of spousal support you pay or receive. A judge has the right to consider if you are dating before you are divorced in determining the amount of spousal support you will either pay or receive. Additionally, adultery is an absolute bar to receiving spousal support in Virginia, absent very rare circumstances. That is a harsh reality, but one of the biggest reasons not to date during a divorce.

4) Dating during divorce can affect how marital property is divided. Like spousal support, a judge has the right to consider if you are dating before you are divorced in determining how any marital property is divided. It is not the only factor a judge will consider, but it certainly is one of them. It is even more important if you used marital accounts to fund your new relationship, as a judge will consider that marital waste and could make you pay all of that back to your spouse.

5) Dating during divorce will affect your children. If you have children, dating for divorce will affect them. They need another change when they are already going through the pain and upheaval caused by their parents’ divorce. 

6) Dating during a divorce may make your case more expensive. Inevitably, when your spouse finds out that you are dating another person, there will be a negative reaction. Oftentimes, that negative reaction spills over into the case itself in the form of not wanting to resolve any or all issues without going to court. Getting divorced is already a financial disaster for everyone involved. It doesn’t make sense to spend even more money on preparing for and attending a trial when it isn’t necessary.

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