But being separated is not the same as being single.
Separated is still married, but not living with one’s spouse.
Second, dating while separated can have lasting repercussions, affecting the former spouses’ relationship long after the divorce decree is entered.
Strained relations between former spouses are particularly problematic when they have young children to co-parent under a permanent parenting plan.
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And dating, even if sex is not a part of it, can still be considered marital misconduct even if it does not rise to the level of adultery per se.
Each spouse must learn to live independently of the other.
Like ripples on a pond, the repercussions can affect family relationships for many years to come. In Tennessee divorce law, having sex with someone who is not your spouse prior to divorce, but after separation, is still adultery.
Of course, dating does not necessarily lead to sexual relations, but it certainly can and often does.
Dating while separated is marital misconduct, which the judge will consider as a factor in the case.
Additionally, when one spouse is dating or carrying on an extra-marital affair during the period of separation, it is not a stretch for the court to assume that the same conduct was going on before the separation. The innocent spouse, through her divorce attorney, may allege that the dating spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.
The potential for negative consequences is not limited to a former spouse’s hurt, embarrassment, or hostility at being publicly humiliated.