Texas Divorce Laws

Dating Before Divorce is Final in Texas: What to Watch Out For

By:
Sophia Merton
Updated
June 20, 2022

No matter how amicable your divorce is, it’s completely normal to feel angry, sad, frustrated, confused, and downright exhausted. Maybe you’re just ready for the whole thing to be over with so you can move on with your life. You might even be wondering about dating before divorce is final in Texas– after all, how could it hurt to go on a few innocent dates?

Although the temptation to meet someone new is understandable, it’s probably not a good idea to start dating before your divorce is complete. There aren’t just legal reasons why you might want to hold off until the Decree of Divorce is signed, there are also strategic and emotional reasons.

Are you curious what you should watch out for when it comes to starting to date again during divorce proceedings?

Let’s dive in and take a look at absolutely everything you need to know.

Can I Date During My Divorce in Texas?

woman with wine at date with man without finalized divorce texas

It is generally advised to wait to start dating until after your divorce is finalized for legal, strategic, and emotional reasons.

A common question that crops up in Texas divorces is whether or not it’s ok to date before the divorce is final. It is generally advised that you should wait until your marriage is legally dissolved before starting to date other people.

This can be frustrating advice to receive for someone that is ready to move on from their marriage. It might seem silly that your lawyer tells you not to go on a harmless dinner date with a friend of a friend. In reality, there are a number of ways that dating during a divorce could come back to bite you, and you might find that it’s better to just wait until the divorce is final.

To be clear, there isn’t a specific law that says that you can’t start dating before your divorce is complete. However, you’re opening yourself up to accusations of adultery and other negative outcomes. This could have a major impact on the entire process, and many attorneys suggest that you wait to date until you’re officially divorced.

Are you wondering if you should get divorced without a lawyer in Texas

What Is Adultery?

shadowy couple dating before divorce is final in texas

You are legally married until your divorce is finalized in the state of Texas, which means that starting a new sexual relationship is technically adultery.

There are several different grounds for divorce in the state of Texas, some of which are no-fault grounds and others are fault-based grounds. One of the fault-based grounds for divorce is adultery.

What this means is that the court can grant a divorce in favor of the other spouse when a spouse commits adultery. Texas law defines adultery as a married individual voluntarily having sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse.

In order for a court to grant a divorce in favor of the spouse that was cheated on, they will have to be able to prove that the spouse who committed adultery was unfaithful. They can do this by providing evidence such as:

  • Videos and photos
  • Emails
  • Texts
  • Credit card or bank statements
  • Social media direct messages

It’s worth noting that Texas courts might consider evidence of adultery in instances where the relationship didn’t begin until the couple was already living apart.

Before you start the process of divorce, it's a good idea to become familiar with some of the sneaky divorce tactics people can use during the proceedings.

Is It Adultery to Date During a Texas Divorce?

couple going on date in texas before divorce is final

Dating isn't necessarily adultery, but it can definitely complicate the process of divorce.

Even if you aren’t living with your spouse and you have separated in all practical ways, a court could view dating during a divorce as adultery. There is no such thing as legal separation in the state of Texas, and you are considered married until your divorce is finalized. This means that a court could still find you guilty of adultery even if you didn’t start dating until after you and your spouse were no longer living together.

It’s generally considered a good idea to wait until your divorce is finalized, therefore, to jump back into the dating pool.

Of course, dating doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve begun a sexual relationship with someone else. However, even if you’re doing everything by the books, you start dipping your toes into murky waters when you start dating. If your spouse accuses you of adultery and collects evidence against you that convinces a court that you had sexual intercourse with someone other than your spouse, it could leave you with very unfavorable outcomes in the divorce.

Curious to know how much it's going to cost to get divorced in Texas? Take a look at our complete guide here.

Can It Affect My Case to Date During a Texas Divorce?

beautiful interior of house being awarded to spouse texas divorce

If you start dating before your divorce is final, your spouse could accuse you of adultery. This can have an impact on the outcome of your divorce, including the division of property and alimony.

Yes, it can. It can impact a number of different aspects of your divorce, including:

  • The division of property
  • Your ability to get an agreed divorce
  • Alimony
  • Child custody

Whether you’ve actually committed adultery or just gone on a few harmless dates, starting to date before your divorce is final can leave you in an undesirable position in divorce proceedings. In most instances, it is advisable to simply wait it out and only start dating once the Decree of Divorce has been signed.

The Division of Property

Your spouse could potentially accuse you of adultery if you start dating before a divorce is final. If they choose to take this accusation to court, it’s possible that marital property could end up getting divided in a way that is in favor of your spouse.

In other instances, the community property that you receive in the case might not be affected. However, the court can also order that any money you spent on your affair will have to be reimbursed to your spouse before the divorce is final.

Your Ability to Get an Uncontested Divorce

Getting an uncontested divorce is definitely preferable to getting a contested divorce. Contested divorces are more expensive, take longer to complete, and, typically, more stressful. If it’s possible to get an agreed divorce, it is usually the best option on the table to help you finalize your divorce and move on with your life.

If you start dating before your divorce is finalized, however, it’s possible that this will upset your spouse and create disagreements where there hadn’t been any before.

It’s important to understand that an uncontested divorce can be changed to a contested divorce at just about any time in the divorce proceeding. This means that you could be gliding down the path of a relatively painless divorce and have the rug pulled out from under you if your spouse decides that they actually don’t agree with you about all of the terms. When you start dating before a divorce is final, you are creating a potentially volatile situation that could lead to your divorce being more expensive, more time-consuming, and a lot more stressful.

Alimony

If the court finds you guilty of adultery, even if you didn’t start dating until you filed for divorce, it could impact your ability to receive alimony. For example, if you were seeking alimony and the court believes you committed adultery, you might be denied spousal support entirely.

Child Custody

It’s possible that child custody could also be impacted by dating before divorce is final in Texas. If your spouse chooses to argue that your new romantic relationship has had a negative impact on the children or that you’ve acted irresponsibly, it could impact the amount of time you will be allowed to spend with your children.

However, it’s important to understand that judges aren’t permitted under Texas law to consider adultery when making a decision regarding child custody and visitation. The reason for this is that the primary focus of the court is the best interest of the children. That being said, child custody or visitation can be indirectly impacted by adultery if one spouse exposed the other to a dangerous individual or if a spouse abandoned the children while having an affair.

Legal Reasons Not to Date Before Divorce Is Final

If you start a sexual relationship with someone that isn’t your spouse before your divorce is final, it is technically considered adultery in Texas. While you most likely wouldn’t be formally charged with the crime, it can definitely have negative financial repercussions and seriously complicate the arrangements surrounding custody.

When awarding disproportionate assets to a spouse, adultery is one of the factors that a Texas court might take into account. Starting to date before a divorce is final could also make it harder to agree on a parenting plan if you’re getting a collaborative divorce. Additionally, it can have a negative impact on the way that property is divided.

Strategic Reasons Not to Date Before Divorce Is Final

Beyond the legal reasons why you might not want to date before finalizing your divorce, there are some strategic reasons you should consider. Even the most mature and understanding spouse might become resentful if they find out that you’ve started to date other people before your divorce is complete. It certainly happens that one spouse decides that they want the other to “pay” both during and after the divorce because they started dating someone else, even the dating spouse is making a point to wait to start a sexual relationship before the divorce is final.

If you have children, it also might be very difficult for them to see you with someone else before your marriage is over. They might feel upset or resentful. It’s even possible that they will decide that they don’t want to spend time with you.

In the middle of a divorce, it really isn’t advisable to alienate either your spouse or your children. Though it can be difficult, it is really best to maintain an amicable relationship with your spouse and being extra considerate of the way that the divorce could be impacting your children.

Emotional Reasons Not to Date Before Divorce Is Final

Finally, there are also some reasons you might not want to start dating before your divorce is over that simply have to do with your own emotional state.

Getting a divorce is really, really hard. Whether you knew it was coming for years or it was a complete surprise, the process of dissolving your marriage is likely one of the most difficult things you will ever be through. This can leave you in an unusual emotional state, and starting to date before your divorce isn’t even complete might not be the best idea for your own psychological and emotional health.

You might think that dating during your divorce will help you avoid the pain associated with the divorce. Maybe you think it will help you feel better about yourself, too. It’s entirely possible that you’re right.

That being said, it really isn’t a good idea to try and avoid feeling the pain you’re experiencing. While it might make you feel better now, it isn’t psychologically healthy to suppress or avoid your pain. If you are avoidant of the pain of divorce, it will continue to pop up unless you let yourself feel the pain and figure out how to deal with it.

Additionally, you most likely need some time to process what it will mean to start a new life without your spouse. Most people won’t be emotionally ready to deal with all of the issues that are associated with starting a new relationship before the divorce has even been finalized.

You’ve probably heard of the concept of having a “rebound” relationship. These relationships rarely last.

It’s typically a good idea to spend some time (at least a few months) making sense of your new life before you jump into the dating pool. This is a great time to get in touch with yourself and think about what you would (and wouldn’t) want out of a new relationship. By taking time to reflect on your marriage and divorce, it can help you get a sense of what a healthy, happy relationship would look like in the future.

How Much Evidence Is Needed to Prove Adultery in Texas?

In order for one spouse to prove that the other is guilty of adultery, they will need to present evidence that infidelity occurred during the marriage. This means that they can provide evidence of adultery even if the spouse didn’t have sexual relations with another person until the divorce was underway.

Clear and positive proof is necessary to prove that a spouse committed adultery. This evidence can either be direct or circumstantial. However, mere innuendo or suggestion isn’t considered to be sufficient evidence of adultery.

A court may not necessarily require that you off proof that sexual intercourse took place between your spouse and another person. Circumstantial evidence can be presented, meaning that the evidence indicates the existence of a relationship even if they don’t serve as definitive proof of a sexual relationship.

Some of the circumstantial evidence that might be presented in court include:

  • Credit card bills or bank statements showing gifts that the spouse purchased for another person
  • Cell phone records
  • Photographic evidence of the relationship
  • Video footage of the relationship
  • Text messages and emails that indicate a romantic or sexual relationship between your spouse and someone else

When it comes to decisions related to alimony and division of assets, a family court judge in Texas can have a lot of discretionary power. This means that a judge could be significantly influenced by spousal adultery when it comes to property division and the other financial aspects of a divorce.

Is It Difficult to Prove Adultery in Texas?

In short, yes. It can be difficult to prove adultery to a court. If you’re filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, you will be required to provide the court with proof that the affair occurred. You cannot simply tell the court that your spouse cheated on you.

One of the reasons that it can be difficult to prove adultery is that it is, by its very nature, secretive. Since obtaining evidence that sexual intercourse actually happened is often nearly impossible, you can offer circumstantial evidence that points to the probable existence of an affair.

Dating After Divorce in Texas: Some Considerations

If your marriage is all but legally over, it can be frustrating to learn that you should probably wait to start dating until it is officially dissolved. You might think that you can simply wait to have sexual relations with other people until the Decree of Divorce is signed and start going on dates, but this probably isn’t a good idea.

Because it’s difficult to provide direct evidence of an affair, your spouse could present circumstantial evidence of adultery even if you haven’t actually cheated. In all honesty, there are just so many compelling reasons why you might want to wait to start dating until after a divorce in Texas that, when you add them all together, it just seems like a no-brainer to wait until you are legally single.

Though your final divorce hearing might seem far away, starting to date before a divorce is final really only increases the potential for your divorce to get drawn out further.

Once your divorce is finally complete, though, you can start dipping your toes back into the dating pool. We want to leave you with some things to consider before you get back out there.

Take Time to Reflect on Your Marriage

The reality is: your marriage didn’t work. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but if you’re figuring out how to start dating after divorce, that’s simply a fact.

Take time to identify exactly where your marriage went wrong to the best of your abilities. It’s entirely possible that you are a victim in the situation– may be your spouse verbally and physically abused you, for example. However, even in such terrible instances, you can ask yourself: what could I have done differently to not have gotten into that situation? Why did I stay for so long?

In most cases, there is probably plenty of blame to go around. Though it can be incredibly painful, it’s essential to consider where your marriage went wrong (and while you’re at it, think about what did work in your marriage) before you start dating again.

Let Yourself Grieve

Even if you are in some ways relieved to have your divorce finalized, that doesn’t mean you don’t have grief over the loss of the relationship. It can be totally devastating to have a marriage end, and it’s important that you give yourself the time and space you need to grieve.

It can be tempting to suppress your emotions in this type of situation, particularly if you have children. Don’t deny yourself the time you need to experience and express your grief, though. No matter how busy you are, there’s always a few minutes in the day to sit and feel your emotions.

Don’t Rush It

It’s important to make sure that you’re ready to start dating again after a divorce. If your divorce is still a sore spot for you, (i.e. whenever it’s brought up you feel highly emotionally reactive,) you might simply need a little more time.

Look Inward

Now that you’re single again, you have an incredible opportunity to focus on your own personal growth and development. Jumping into a new relationship can feel good, but it can also distract you from important inner work.

There are tons of great books out there about personal growth that you can check out, and now might be a great time to do so.

Find Someone to Talk To

Whether you’d prefer to see a therapist, a life coach, a priest, or someone else who is qualified to talk to you about your emotions, it can be a good idea to find someone you can talk to. Whether you’re struggling with open questions about your marriage or you’re dealing with overwhelming emotions, the ability to talk about it can make a huge difference.

Be Honest

When you start dating again, it’s important to both be honest with yourself and with any potential new partners.

Be honest with yourself about the level of commitment that you’re comfortable with at this stage. You’ll also want to be open about the type of relationship you’re looking for with anyone you dating. Share with them where you’re coming from and where you are in the process of dealing with your divorce.

It’s also a good idea to be balanced in your presentation of your marriage to new partners. In most cases, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and sharing the ways that you could have acted differently in a relationship can signal to other people that you’re willing to own the part you played in the divorce.

Set Your Boundaries

If you don’t know what your boundaries are, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself more time to figure them out before you start dating. Once you know which lines you don’t want to cross, there’s no need to make it a guessing game for your new partner. It can seriously help avoid problems cropping up down the road by being honest from the get-go.

Get a Clear Sense of Your Standards

What are your deal breakers? What are your standards? What do you want to do differently this time around?

Understanding what your standards are can make sure you don’t immediately hop into a relationship that isn’t right for you.

Trust Your Instincts

It’s easy to be overly rational when it comes to dating, but it’s important to trust your gut. Even if someone seems like a perfect match on paper, that doesn’t mean much if your instincts are telling you to run.

Be Patient

When you get divorced, it can be tempting to sprint to find a new partner to have a serious relationship with. Don’t get down on yourself if it takes a while before you meet someone that you are really interested in. This is the type of thing you really don’t want to rush!

Be Open-Minded

Lastly, it’s also a good idea to be open-minded when you’re rejoining the dating pool after living the married life. You might have a sense of what your “type” is, but what if you went on some dates with people that fell outside of that category? You never know what might happen, and once you’re really ready to date again it can be a great exercise to work on being open to new possibilities.

Are You Getting Divorced in Texas?

When you’re getting a divorce, you’re probably dealing with a lot of different emotions. Often considered one of the most stressful life events that anyone can go through, it’s important that you take the time you need to heal from the divorce before dating again. Even if you feel fully ready to start meeting new people, it’s really not advisable either from a legal or from a strategic standpoint to begin dating until your divorce is final.

Understanding the laws in Texas surrounding divorce can help ensure that the process is as quick, inexpensive, and painless as possible. At the same time, having a firm grasp of your rights and responsibilities can mean that you actually get an outcome from the divorce that’s favorable to you.

Are you looking for more resources about getting divorced in Texas? If so, be sure to check out our library of articles.

Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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