Do you want to date someone before your Georgia divorce is final? The good news is that no law on the books makes it unlawful to date while separated in Georgia. However, that is not the only issue that you need to consider.
Dating while separated could potentially impact the outcome of your divorce. Therefore, discussing the matter with your Douglasville divorce lawyer before you jump back into the dating pool while you are separated is wise.
Adultery Is Criminalized in Georgia
Most couples seek a no-fault divorce instead of claiming fault grounds. You are not required to prove wrongdoing for a no-fault divorce. All that is necessary is for at least one spouse to testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken because of irreconcilable differences.
However, Georgia divorce laws also include several fault grounds for divorce. You could sue your spouse for a divorce on the grounds of adultery. In addition to being grounds for divorce, adultery is a crime in Georgia.
Georgia Code §16-6-19 makes adultery a misdemeanor offense for which you could spend up to one year in jail. You commit adultery when you voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse. Therefore, while you can date while separated, choosing to have sex while still legally married could result in criminal charges.
Law enforcement officers typically do not charge people with a crime for having an affair. Nonetheless, adultery is a criminal act, and committing a criminal act could impact your divorce case.
The mere allegation of adultery could be damaging for you in a Douglasville divorce case. Openly dating while separated and displaying any type of public display of affection could lead to allegations that you are involved in a sexual relationship with another person.
How Else Can Dating While Separated in Georgia Impact Your Divorce Case in Douglasville?
Dating before your divorce is finalized could impact the outcome of your divorce in other ways as well. Areas of your divorce case that could be impacted if you date while separated include, but are not limited to:
Child Custody and Visitation
Courts encourage parents to develop a parenting plan that is in everyone’s best interests. However, when child custody and visitation are disputed, Georgia judges decide these matters based on the best interest of the child.
Dating while you are separated could impact the custody and visitation decision. For example, suppose your spouse discovers your dates occasionally spend the night at the house when your children are there. They could use this information to allege you have poor judgment and should not have primary custody of your children.
Likewise, if your spouse discovers negative information about anyone you date, they could use that information to allege you exposed your children to a potentially harmful influence. It could hurt your case even if you were unaware of the person’s history. Your lack of knowledge could be viewed as poor judgment in some situations.
Georgia laws bar alimony and spousal support for a spouse guilty of adultery in some cases. Dating while separated does not prove you engaged in sexual relations as required for adultery. However, dating during separation in Georgia can be combined with other evidence to convince a judge that you committed adultery.
Georgia is an equitable division state. When couples cannot agree on how to divide marital assets, the judge determines what is fair. Fair can be a 50-50 split, but it could also be an uneven division of marital assets.
Judges consider many factors to determine what is fair. So, it is best not to give the judge any reason to think that “fair” means your spouse should receive a larger portion of the marital assets. It’s possible, even if unlikely, that dating while separated could impact these proceedings.
Dating During a Legal Separation in Georgia
Legal separation is not recognized in Georgia. However, you can file for separate maintenance, which resolves many of the same issues as a final divorce order. You can resolve alimony, child support, property division, and child custody issues.
Your attorney will prepare an agreement for separate maintenance to propose to the court. Typically, the judge approves the order if it is lawful and fair. However, judges can modify the terms of child support and custody if they find the terms are not in the children’s best interests.
During separate maintenance, you are still legally married. Therefore, talk to your Douglasville divorce attorney before dating after an agreement for separate maintenance. The best way to protect yourself is to be open and honest with your attorney so they can give you effective legal advice.
Contact the Georgia Divorce Firm of Bardley McKnight Law for Help Today
We proudly serve Douglas County and its surrounding areas:
Law Firm of Bardley McKnight Law Offices
12461 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Suite 470
Douglasville, GA 30134