According to Mr Justice Mostyn, a top family judge with the High Court, women who are going through a divorce should hold off on beginning a new relationship until the process is finalised. Starting a relationship while the process is ongoing, he warns, could damage their prospects when it comes to the final settlement.
Mostyn said that a lot of people, following the break-up of a marriage and separation from their former partner, seek comfort in new relationships before the divorce has been finalised. However, he has warned that this can be a problem when judges come to decide how much a woman should receive in a divorce settlement from their former husband. Judges, he said, often assume that the fact they are with a new partner means that they have already entered a new home and a stable financial future. This, he said, can lead to women having their long-term financial position endangered by new relationships.
Mr Justice Mostyn, who has represented prominent individuals such as Sir Paul McCartney in their divorce proceedings, pointed to one previous case as an example. A forty-something couple who lived in Swansea with an adopted child were divorcing after 13 years of marriage. The wife had a steady career as a journalist, while the husband had very little income but a small inherited fortune.
During the divorce proceedings, the wife entered into a new relationship with a former officer of the armed forces. She tried to keep the relationship a secret from the court, and when her husband’s legal team uncovered it the outcome of the case was significantly altered to the detriment of her settlement.
According to Mostyn, such relationships invariably form “a significant fly in the ointment in assessment of need.” He went on to say that “One cannot make assumptions, if it is not full-blown cohabitation akin to marriage which will grow into that, because if it does not, the wife may be left stranded between Scylla and Charybdis.”
“On the other hand,” he noted, “if one makes a needs assessment on the basis that she is a single woman and she soon cohabits, then the paying party… can rightfully feel significantly aggrieved.”
There are a number of reasons other than the purely financial to avoid dating before receipt of the decree absolute. It can be an emotional blow to the other party, making them feel embarrassed or hurt, and this can cause proceedings to be drawn out as one partner becomes uncooperative and bitter. When there are children involved, this emotional impact can also harm efforts to keep the situation amicable for their sake.
An ongoing divorce may also impact on the new relationship, leading to future difficulties and complications.
If you are considering a divorce or separation, you can trust K J Smith solicitors to help you. For a discussion or to arrange an initial consultation, please contact our family solicitors Basingstoke on 01256 584000 or our family solicitors Reading on 0118 418 1000.