Shacking Up Before Divorce
Legal: Think About State Law Before Moving in with New Partner
It’s a bad habit practiced by many couples. But moving in with a new love before you wrap up a divorce can present a number of problems. While women often throw themselves into their career, men often resort to sex with new partners to deal with the stress of a divorce.
“For most people, divorce is an extremely stressful process,” says Marsha Garrison, Secretary-General of the International Society of Family Law and member of the Journal of Law and Family Studies advisory board. “Often, divorcing partners are working through a good deal of grief and anger. Typically, this is not the best moment to make a new commitment. The old adage ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’ sums it up.”
While rebound relationships can be helpful in assuaging doubts about your ability to succeed in a relationship, it’s worthwhile to note that psychological and sociological studies have shown that intimate relationships that begin before a divorce is finalized rarely survive. So moving in with a new lover during the last stages of your divorce can lead to headaches.
First off, courts will wonder why you’re so eager to bed a new partner while your soon-to-be ex is still peppering the judge with motions. It’s better to avoid shacking up until all the paperwork is signed, particularly if custody and financial support issues are involved, experts say.
If your spouse finds out you’re sleeping with someone else (they always find out), and if they brought in more money than you did during the marriage, they may decide to try to take you to the cleaners. Whether you’re in a ‘Fault’ State or not (which can mean they may not have legal ground to stand on in court), it’s best to cool it when it comes to live-in lovers until your divorce is final.
Licensed Marriage Family Therapist Allison Cohen serves clients in Beverly Hills and Tarzana. Says Cohen, “There seems to be an illusion of ‘readiness’ when someone moves in with a new love before the divorce is final. Some may feel that they processed the loss before it officially ended and are acting on a high from the feeling of empowerment over the decision. Because of these factors, they feel ready to move on. In some rare instances, this may be true, though there are many obstacles to tackle before true acceptance can take shape.”
“Simply having to change your name and address, telling the story of the breakup to friends and family and the psychological adjustment of your status change from married to single takes a significant period of time to fully acclimate to. People often confuse ‘feeling ready to be divorced’ with ‘feeling ready to move on.’ They are quite different, in fact. Though there are no hard and fast rules, it is always advisable to take at least one year to process the significant changes that divorce often brings, even if you are the one initiating the breakup.”
Children invariably have a tough time adjusting to a marriage gone bad; so compounding their confusion and stress with an intimate new relationship is the last thing they need. When your new live-in relationship ends, your children must confront still another loss, especially if they’ve grown attached to your lover. Children can survive these ‘serial losses’ but do so at a price: they come away with the idea that it’s not safe to develop close relationships something they often carry into adulthood.
Marriage and Family Therapist Lisa Brookes Kift listed a number of disadvantages to moving in with a new love before the divorce is final. Overlapping of any relationship usually brings up trust issues down the line. I imagine it might be even worse if one person was willing to move in with another before their divorce was through. Along the same lines, for one to make that choice might bring up respect issues later as well what type of person would do that so easily and not just wait until the divorce was official?
Brookes Kift, who has a blog, admits that moving in with a new lover is not going to be an ideal start to building a strong and healthy foundation in any relationship, adding, “It may feel good at the time, but when things get challenging as they do. These actions could be brought up again as a ‘negative’ and potential source of insecurity.”
All the more reason to avoid any intimate relationships until well after final court decree. Instead of jumping into the sack with a new lover, take it easy, and spend some time with friends and relatives to heal and discover what you did to create the breakup. This time will be better spent determining how you can move forward in the best way possible for you, your children, and your former spouse. A hot and heavy live-in relationship with someone that’s usually a complete opposite of your ex is the last thing you need.
About the author: Alex A. Kecskes is a national award-winning writer with more than 20 years experience in advertising, PR, and promotions. He is founder of ak creativeworks, a creative services company and writes regularly for web and print.