Dating during divorce: Dissipation, alimony, custody

Many people wonder if they can date while getting divorced. Others contact me and complain that their spouses are cheating on them.

That begs the question, does dating while getting divorce have any effect on the divorce?

If you want some insight into that, read this article, and one about adultery titled “Cheating and adultery: relevant to divorce in Illinois?

Finances: Is your spouse wasting money on a lover?

The judge does not want to hear about your broken heart, or what a jerk your spouse is for lying to you and having sex with someone else. That might make good fodder for TV court, but TV court is not realistic.

However, that doesn’t mean that your spouse’s love life is totally irrelevant. That’s because he or she may be “dissipating” marital funds.

Dissipation occurs when, during and after the “breakdown” of the parties’ marriage, one spouse spends money for purposes other than marital purposes. What does that mean? I think examples might be in order.

Did your spouse buy the same amount of food at the grocery store as was done in the past? That’s probably not dissipation.

Did your spouse take an extra-marital lover to eat at a gourmet restaurant 5 times last month? That’s probably dissipation.

It get’s a bit more complicated than that, but I think you get the idea.


Sometimes “alimony” is an issue. Alimony is now called spousal maintenance in Illinois.

Spousal maintenance often comes into play where one spouse is a high-earner and the other is not. There are many factors that go into how much spousal maintenance will be paid, and whether or not it will be awarded at all.

What can prevent a person from getting spousal maintenance? Many things. But one of them is if the person who wants maintenance moves in with a lover who is providing financial support. In that case, the person who wants the support is being supported by someone else, and may no longer need support from the soon-to-be ex.

Custody & Visitation

Just ask judges don’t want to hear about your broken heart, they also don’t want a bunch of jealous crazies clogging up the court complaining about how their spouse’s new lover is going to destroy their children.

Judges want people to move on with live. That makes the courts less crowded. One aspect of moving on with life – for many people – is to date someone else. And if the divorcing couple has kids, it is obvious the kids will meet the new paramour.

That being said, judges do care about exposing children to a rotating cast of short-term paramours. They also don’t want the children to come to any harm.

Long story short, if you or your spouse is dating someone, that’s probably not a big deal unless that person is creating a danger for the kids.

But the judge makes the ultimate call.

About the author: Contact Illinois family law attorney David Wolkowitz at 312-554-5433 or online. He is a family law and divorce attorney serving Chicago and the Counties of Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Areas of practice include divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, child support, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).