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Specifically, we will answer the following questions: Can dating during my divorce affect custody in Wisconsin?, Can dating during divorce affect child support in Wisconsin?, and Can dating during divorce affect alimony in Wisconsin?

Divorce, even before anything has been filed in court, can be a long and difficult process. It is possible your relationship has been effectively over for a significant period of time preceding the official divorce proceeding.  This is beside the fact that the court procedures in divorce can be a difficult and sometimes alienating experience.  It is only natural then that people would consider beginning a new romantic relationship and dating before the divorce is final.  It makes sense on a human level; however, this begs the question, will dating during my divorce affect the outcome in Wisconsin?  The short answer is yes, depending on the circumstances dating can have a significant impact on several major factors in a divorce proceeding. In this article, we will take a look at this tricky issue, helping you balance the risks associated with a new romantic partner before your divorce has been finalized.  Specifically, we will answer the following questions:

  • Can dating during my divorce affect custody in Wisconsin?
  • Can dating during divorce affect child support in Wisconsin?
  • Can dating during divorce affect alimony in Wisconsin?

Can dating during my divorce affect custody in Wisconsin?

The physical placement, Wisconsin’s family law term for custody, of a child is perhaps the most significant and often most contentious issue in a divorce trial.  It is doubly important then to understand the impact dating before a divorce is final can have on custody.  More than any other area, dating can seriously and negatively impact your chances of physical placement, and the terms of what physical placement would like when the child is in your custody.  

When making a decision regarding the disposition of a child, Wisconsin courts are required to use the standard of what is in the best interest of the child.  As part of a divorce proceeding involving children, the court will appoint what is known as guardian ad litem.  This is an attorney who acts on behalf of the court to investigate the circumstances surrounding the child.  This will include interviewing the parents and the child.  As part of this investigation, the facts of a new relationship will be made known to the court.  

Under Wisconsin Statue 767.41(5), among the factors considered by a court when making a determination of physical custody, is any relationships likely to have a significant affect on the child.  This includes new romantic partners their parents have begun dating, especially if they reside in the household with the child.  The fact of the matter is, courts may baseline view a new relationship during the divorce as inappropriate, as it could be confusing and difficult for the child to understand.  Even otherwise great partners could be looked on as added instability for the child during the divorce.  For partners who are potentially not so great, the considerations become significantly worse.  Wisconsin statute specifically compels courts who are considering a question of physical placement to factor in any history of criminal activity or drug and substance abuse on the part of a romantic partner of the parents.  The existence of such a history is likely to significantly lessen the chances of being awarded physical placement.

Note, Wisconsin courts may even go a step further by issuing an order affecting your relationship with your new partner.  Spouses in divorce proceedings may petition the court to prevent a new romantic partner from interacting with your child during your custody of them.  Such an order could prevent them from coming over during the time you have the child.  

Can dating during divorce affect child support in Wisconsin?

Yes, dating can have a significant impact on the child support award in a divorce proceeding in Wisconsin.  If you are sharing expenses with your new partner, courts will take note of this when considering how much financial assistance you require with raising your children.  If the burden has been lifted somewhat by the contribution of your new partner, courts are likely to reduce your assistance.

Can dating during divorce affect alimony in Wisconsin?

Yes, dating can impact the amount of alimony you receive in your divorce trial in Wisconsin.  Like child support, courts will look at the financial assistance you are receiving from your new partner when considering what you require to maintain your lifestyle.  This will be especially true if you have moved in with your new partner, as you will likely be relying on them substantially.  Another important factor to keep in mind is relationships can tend to be expensive.  Money spent on date nights, either in food or entertainment, can appear spurious to courts.  Courts generally disfavor significant expenditures of any kind during a divorce trial.  If these expenditures are incurred as a result of a relationship this could put you in a poor standing with the court.  Serious expenditures could result in money leaving your portion of the marital estate in the form of an award by the court to your ex-spouse, compensating them for your behavior.  

Request a consultation with an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney.  

There are a lot of important questions you need answered if you are facing divorce in Wisconsin.  Call our office at (630) 324-6666, email info@flaherty-law.com, or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Wisconsin lawyers today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.  

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