Happy childThis is the next post in our series on dating during a divorce in Little Rock, Arkansas. The last article discussed how spending money on a boyfriend or girlfriend could impact the division of property between the spouses. Lavish spending could be considered a waste of marital assets and could negatively impact a property settlement. It is important to speak with a family law attorney to understand how your actions may complicate the divorce process. This article will discuss another important issue – how dating during a divorce may impact a child custody decision. If you need assistance with a family law matter, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.

It is important to understand that a court’s primary focus in child custody decisions is whether something is in the “best interests of the child.” As we have discussed in this series, a court will not typically be concerned about a parent dating during a divorce. If, however, the new relationship is seen not to be in the best interest of the child, the court may be inclined to award more (or all) custody rights to the other parent. For example, if a new boyfriend has a criminal background or abuses drugs or alcohol, the court may decide that spending time with him is not in the child’s best interest. Depending on the level of concern, a court may award full custody to the other parent.

Aside from the legal analysis, the decision to begin dating before a finalized divorce can have practical implications as well. Introducing a new partner to your children can add tension to your relationship with a soon to be ex spouse. If the situation was already contentious, doing so may create additional complications. Resolving open issues in the divorce or child custody negotiations could be more difficult. Furthermore, introducing your child to a significant other can be emotional even in the best of circumstances. This may be particularly difficult if the child is still dealing with the divorce. Decisions about when to date, who to date and when to expose your children to the relationship should always be carefully considered. This decision is even more important if your divorce is not yet final.

Contact our office today to speak with a Little Rock family lawyer. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of Arkansas.