By Judge Anne Kass

10-25-93 (Dating) Originally published 11-1-93 ~ Anne Kass is a District Judge for the Second Judicial District in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the first of several articles she has submitted to Divorce Online.

A few weeks ago the classified personals contained an ad that read,

"Male 53, unhappily married, divorce pending, seeks slim, unattached female, 40-55, for long-term, caring relationship. Call . . . "

It made me think of the hundreds of cases I've seen in divorce court in which one of the spouses became intimately involved with someone new before the divorce was final. Those cases were horribly acrimonious and expensive because there is very little that can turn a divorce case into a thermonuclear war quite like the involvement of one spouse with a new companion.

New Mexico has had no-fault divorce since 1933, so the Courts are not much interested in who is the good-spouse or the bad-spouse. That won't make any difference in how property is divided, and it won't change other aspects of the financial divorce.

However, these new relationships may be relevant to custody and visitation decisions. One thing is for sure, if a parent becomes involved with someone new, the children should not be involved in that new relationship. If they do involve the children, they should expect to hear about it in court. The court's concern will be about emotional damage to the children, not the parent's morality.

Psychological and sociological data tell us that an intimate relationship which starts before a divorce is finalized has very little chance of long-term survival. The new companion may be serving primarily as a distraction, a way to avoid feeling the pain that divorce causes.

When the new relationship dissolves, as it almost certainly will, the children experience another loss, if they've been made a part of that relationship. Children who suffer a series of losses can end up with a sense that it is not safe to develop close relationships. That can impact all of their friendships as well as their own future attitudes about marriage. Mistrust, isolation and loneliness are high prices for children to pay for their parents' bad judgement.

People in the throes of a divorce are wise to avoid any intimate relationships until well after the divorce is final. They can save themselves a lot of aggravation and legal fees, if nothing else. But whatever the grown-ups do to themselves, they should absolutely avoid introducing any new companions to their children until the divorce is over and until there is a solid foundation for the new relationship with some reasonable degree of probability that it will last.

Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 at 12:55PM by Registered CommenterSite Administrator in | Comments Off

Share this Article:

del.icio.us | Digg | Google | Ma.gnolia | Reddit | Stumble Upon | Technorati

 Discuss this article at He Said... She Said

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend