Strictly speaking, there is no California law that will disadvantage you in divorce proceedings simply because you are dating someone else. If your divorce is contentious, however, it is possible that anything you do will be used as ammunition by your spouse or their lawyer – and dating during a divorce could, under certain circumstances, be used against you. From a practical standpoint, the answer to this question is that usually it doesn’t matter, but sometimes it does.
Technically, dating before your divorce has been finalized is considered adultery. Without more, however, adultery is irrelevant because California is a “no-fault” divorce state. The only two grounds for divorce are incurable insanity and irreconcilable differences, and neither of these two grounds implicate fault.
The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard
One way that an allegation of “fault” could get in through the back door of a California divorce proceeding is through the “best interest of the child” standard. Under this standard, child custody and child support issues are decided based on the best interests of the child, even at the expense of parental rights, if necessary.
Dating, Child Support, and Spousal Support (Alimony)
Child support and spousal support are based on the needs of the respective recipients (the child and the ex-spouse), not the conduct of the parties involved. As such, in most cases, dating in divorce proceedings will not affect the amount of child support or spousal support that either party is awarded. It still might be possible, however, in unusual cases.
Dating and Child Custody
Under the best interests of the child standard, your conduct or character is relevant only if it affects the child’s best interests. Simply dating a new partner is not considered an offense against the child’s best interests. It might matter, however, if your new partner has a serious criminal record, because that might call your judgment into question. It might also matter if your new partner frequently speaks ill of the other spouse in front of your child.
Dating and Property Division
California is a community property state, which means (in oversimplified terms) that both spouses own all economic assets acquired during the marriage, no matter who earned them or paid for them. Upon divorce, assets are generally split equally between the divorcing spouses.
Although dating will not normally affect property division, under certain circumstances, it might. Suppose, for example, that you lavish your new partner with expensive gifts paid for out of assets that are considered community property. This could be used by your spouse to argue that they are entitled to more than 50 percent of the remaining community property.
We’ve Seen It All Before
At CKB Vienna, there is not much that can happen in a divorce proceeding that we haven’t handled successfully many times before. If you are involved in divorce proceedings or if you anticipate a divorce, call us at 909-980-1040 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation where we can answer your questions. We serve clients in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Riverside Co