When a couple decides to divorce, one partner may decide to move on with their life immediately. Moving on with their life might mean dating while the divorce is pending. In some cases, a spouse might even decide to have a new partner move into the home.

Can dating or cohabitation during a divorce have an impact on the final outcome of the case? The simple answer is yes, it could.

Is Dating During a Divorce Considered Adultery?

Yes, under New Jersey law, you have committed adultery if you date while you are still legally married. Being separated from your spouse and living under different roofs does not mean that you can date or move in with someone else without consequences. 

New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state. Either spouse may petition the court to dissolve the marriage if they want out of the marriage. The grounds for a no-fault divorce are irreconcilable differences.

New Jersey also has other grounds for divorce, including adultery. Alleging adultery does not generally impact the outcome of a divorce. Adultery typically does not increase the amount of child support or alimony you receive or impact the equitable distribution of property. 

However, there are situations in which cohabitating with a partner during a divorce could impact specific elements of your divorce. 

Can Dating During a Divorce Impact the Terms of a Divorce?

Yes, adultery could impact some terms of your divorce in certain situations. 

Adultery typically does not impact the amount of spousal support or property you might receive. However, if the adultery resulted in financial hardship for the family, the judge could consider that factor when deciding support and property division.

For example, suppose a spouse depleted the couple’s savings to purchase extravagant items for their new partner. In that case, the judge may award a larger share of the property to the non-cheating spouse to compensate for the depletion of marital assets.

Dating during a divorce could also impact child custody and parenting time. The judge considers all factors when deciding custody and visitation matters. If a new partner has a criminal record, a substance abuse problem, or any other issues, it could impact the judge’s decision regarding custody and visitation. 

Could Cohabitation During a Divorce Impact the Proceeding?

Spouses are permitted to go on with their lives during the divorce. They can date, but if the relationship becomes intimate, they are committing adultery. It can be challenging to prove a spouse is engaging in an intimate relationship if the parties only see each other in public settings.

However, if a spouse moves a new partner into the home during the divorce, that is strong evidence that the parties are engaging in an intimate relationship. The same issues discussed above would apply.

Cohabitation can impact an alimony settlement. The court may determine that a spouse does not need alimony or support because they financially benefit from another adult sharing the home. If a spouse begins living with a partner during or after the divorce, the alimony payments may be reduced.

Should You Move Your New Partner into Your Home During a Divorce?

It is best to wait until your divorce is complete before you begin living with another person. Cohabitation during a divorce can complicate issues related to custody, property division, and spousal support. Your ex-partner may decide to change from an uncontested divorce to a contested divorce, which could lengthen the time it takes to obtain the divorce and increase its cost.

If the court grants you alimony, you also need to consider how cohabitation could impact your payments. Your ex-spouse may petition the court for a modification of support payments based on a change of circumstances. 

Before moving in with a new partner, it is wise to consult with your divorce lawyer. Your attorney can explain how cohabitation could impact the divorce process now and your divorce settlement in the future. 

It is natural to want to move on with your life after separating from your partner. Your partner may also want to move on with their life, too. 

The goal is to obtain your divorce as quickly as possible and on the best terms possible. Dating or living with someone during the divorce inflames matters. Avoid the complications of a long, bitter divorce by waiting until your divorce is final before making it known that you have a new love interest.