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One of the most asked questions a newly separated person has is, when is it ok to begin to date? There is no magic answer, but there are some things to consider that can help you decide when the time is appropriate. While you are legally allowed to have a romantic relationship after you’ve separated, it does not mean that it will be free of consequence. Your behavior post-separation can be used to corroborate allegations made by your spouse during your marriage. If your spouse alleges that you were unfaithful during your marriage, what you do after you separate, can help strengthen their argument.

Another factor to consider when thinking about dating is that it can often hinder settlement negotiations. Many times, settlement negotiations go south because of one spouse’s anger that the other party has quickly moved on to a new relationship. If you are in the midst of resolving the outstanding issues of your divorce, it might be best to hold off on having a new friend until a written Separation Agreement or Consent Order is in place.

Piggybacking on this question is when can a new girlfriend or boyfriend meet the children. Like above, there’s no magic answer as you ultimately get to decide when that time is appropriate. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you are in a substantial relationship with a new person to introduce them to any children. The court typically defines a substantial relationship as one being six months or more.

In short, while you are free to date at any time after you’ve become separated, it’s usually best to proceed with caution and wait until any outstanding issues are settled with your spouse.