Is Dating During Legal Separation Considered Adultery in New York?

A man and woman sitting across from each other at a table with an alarm clock sitting on the table between them.

Legal separation can be a necessary step for spouses who are having issues in their marriage. This process provides some breathing space for the couple to work out their issues, decide if they want to get a divorce, and make arrangements for property division, child custody, spousal support, and child support.

However, legal separation also raises questions about whether the spouses can date other people without committing adultery. This blog post will explore the question, "Is dating during legal separation considered adultery in New York?".

How Is Legal Separation Defined in New York?

Legal separation is a process that allows married couples to live apart and address issues related to their marriage without officially dissolving their marriage. In New York, legal separation can be granted by a court order or separation agreement signed by both spouses.

Unlike divorce, legal separation does not terminate the marital status of the spouses. Therefore, they are still technically married. However, legal separation does allow either spouse to seek court orders for things like child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division.

Since I’m Still Married During a Legal Separation, Does That Mean It’s Cheating if I Date Someone Other Than My Spouse?

In New York, adultery is defined as sexual relations between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. Adultery is still a crime in New York, but it is rarely prosecuted. However, adultery can be used as grounds for divorce, and it can affect issues like property division and spousal support.

When it comes to legal separation, dating other people can be a gray area. Technically, neither spouse is committing adultery if they date other people during their legal separation. However, the question of fidelity during a legal separation can influence court decisions related to child custody, spousal support, and property division.

For instance, if one spouse can prove that the other spouse engaged in extramarital affairs during their legal separation, it can affect their claim for spousal support and child custody. Similarly, if one spouse spends shared funds on their new partner, it can be considered a dissipation of marital assets and affect property division.

Bottom line, even if legal separation does not technically prohibit spouses from dating other people, it is still advisable to be cautious. Dating during legal separation can complicate matters and lead to arguments and resentments. It can also be emotionally challenging for both spouses, especially if one of them is not ready to move on. If the spouses have children, they should prioritize their well-being and avoid exposing them to new romantic partners unless they decide to move forward with a divorce, and even then, only once the divorce is final.

If We’re Considering Legal Separation, Should We Talk to a Family Law Attorney First?

Dating during legal separation is not considered adultery in New York, but it can have legal and emotional consequences. Spouses who are considering dating other people during legal separation should weigh the pros and cons carefully and be aware of the potential risks.

One way to do this is for the spouses to consult with a family law attorney before agreeing to legally separate. Speaking with an attorney first can help the spouses ensure that their actions during their legal separation do not jeopardize their legal rights and interests moving forward.

Considering legal separation in New York? Give Letterio & Haug, LLP a call at (845) 203-0997 or contact us online today to discuss your situation with our experienced legal separation attorneys in Dutchess County.

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