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Would it be considered adultery if I date while we’re separated?

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 13, 2023)

Last Updated on: 13th October 2023, 08:21 pm

Would it be considered adultery if I date while we’re separated?

Separation can be a confusing time emotionally and legally. While you may feel ready to move on and start dating again, you need to be aware of the potential legal implications. Dating while separated could be considered adultery depending on where you live and your separation status. This article will break down the legal and moral issues around dating during separation to help you make the best decisions.

What is separation?

Legally, separation means you and your spouse are living apart but are still married. The requirements for legal separation vary by state. Some states consider you separated if you are living in different homes. Other states require a signed separation agreement or legal decree from a court .During separation, you are still married and not yet divorced. This means certain legal obligations like financial support may continue. Most experts advise avoiding serious new relationships until the divorce is finalized.

Can dating during separation be considered adultery?

In some states, yes dating while separated can be considered adultery. Adultery refers to sexual acts between a married person and someone other than their spouse. Even if you and your spouse agree to see other people, it may still legally be adultery until the divorce is finalized.Whether dating is adultery depends on your separation status:

  • Informal separation – If you have informally separated but are still living together, dating could be considered adultery. Courts typically view this as one spouse “abandoning” the marriage.
  • Legal separation – If you are legally separated by a court order, dating may still be considered adultery. This depends on your state’s laws. Some states recognize legal separation while others do not.
  • Separate households – Even if you are living in entirely separate homes, you are still married if not legally divorced. Dating could be viewed as adultery, although this may be harder to prove.

The impact of committing adultery varies by state. In some states, it may affect alimony or property division. In others, adultery is not a consideration. Talk to a local family lawyer to understand your risks.

When can you legally start dating?

To avoid any doubts about adultery, wait until you are fully divorced to start dating. Here are some guidelines:

  • After separation agreement – Do not date until you have a signed separation agreement outlining the terms of your separation. This shows you and your spouse both agreed to separate.
  • After filing for divorce – You are likely in the clear legally if you begin dating after filing for divorce but before the decree is finalized. However, this could still raise legal and emotional issues.
  • After divorce decree – You are legally free to date once your divorce decree is issued. This is the safest approach if you want to avoid adultery accusations. The decree formally ends your marriage.

Even if it is legal, starting a new relationship pre-divorce is not always wise. It can complicate negotiations and hurt your spouse emotionally. Talk to your ex and consider their feelings before dating.

Can I move in with a new partner?

It is legal to move in with a new romantic partner during separation. However, cohabitation can have financial and legal consequences.If you receive spousal or child support, your ex could claim your expenses are lower now that you share living costs. A judge may adjust support payments as a result.Moving in with a partner before divorce can also lead to accusations of adultery or questions about your parenting. Think carefully before taking this step.

Does dating impact divorce settlements?

In states that recognize fault in divorce, adultery can impact your settlement. Your spouse may get a larger share of assets or increased alimony if adultery is proven. You may also lose certain inheritance rights.Even in no-fault divorce states, a new partner may still be considered when determining alimony and the division of property. Overall, dating before divorce rarely works in your favor financially.

Emotional aspects of dating while separated

Along with potential legal impacts, consider if you are emotionally ready to start dating again. Take time for self-reflection first. Jumping into a new relationship prematurely often leads to more hurt.Dating can also stir up feelings of jealousy, anger, or resentment in your spouse. This can make it harder to reach agreements during your divorce. Put your kids first and try to keep interactions with your ex positive.

Tips for dating during separation

If you do decide to date during separation, here are some tips:

  • Talk to your spouse and agree on boundaries
  • Consult your divorce lawyer about adultery laws in your state
  • Take it slow – don’t move in with a new partner right away
  • Wait until you have filed for divorce to begin dating
  • Keep your dating life separate from your children
  • Prepare for legal and emotional complications
  • Be discreet and maintain privacy. Keep details off of social media.


Dating while separated can be adultery but the laws vary by state. The safest approach is to wait until your divorce decree is official. However, if you do wish to date, consult with a lawyer and your spouse first to understand the implications. Move forward thoughtfully, aware of both the legal and emotional risks. With patience and care for all involved, you can successfully navigate dating during separation.

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