This is the next post in our series about the potential impact of dating during a divorce in Little Rock, Arkansas. The previous article discussed the various ways having a new relationship may affect a child custody matter. It is important to carefully consider any decision to expose your children to your new love interest. Not only could this have negative emotional consequences, but in certain circumstances, it may also result in reduced custody rights. Consulting a qualified family law attorney can help you understand your options. This article will review another commonly asked question – whether a person can move in with a boyfriend or girlfriend during a divorce. If you need assistance with these issues, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
A previous post in this series discussed the concept of marital waste in the context of whether spending money on a new boyfriend or girlfriend could impact divorce proceedings. Like dating, moving in with a significant other may also raise questions about misappropriating shared marital property. A court will not typically prohibit someone from cohabitating with another person while a divorce is pending. If, however, the circumstances of the new living arrangements have a financial impact on the other spouse or on the marital assets, this may impact the court’s division of property.
The assets accrued and debts incurred by a couple during their marriage are considered joint marital property. This of course includes their residence and their income until the divorce is finalized. If a spouse elects to move in with a boyfriend or girlfriend, funds spent to pay for the new residence are marital funds. If a court finds that the spouse is supporting the other person by paying all of the household expenses, it may decide marital waste has occurred. As a result, the court may rule that the other spouse is entitled to some of that money back in the asset division. For example, if a wife moves into a new apartment with her boyfriend and pays $10,000 in rent and utilities with no contribution from the boyfriend, a court may deem this to be waste and increase the husband’s property settlement by that amount. The court will not penalize her husband for her decision to support the new partner.
When deciding whether to live with someone during a divorce, the best way to avoid problems in your divorce is to share the living expenses equally. Rent, utilities, insurance and furnishings should be split between both parties. Being able to provide documentation, such as receipts, if an accusation arises will be essential.
A decision to live with someone during the divorce may upset the other spouse and may complicate an already tense situation. Understanding the consequences of your choices could help you avoid the assertion of marital waste. Engaging an attorney with divorce experience can help clarify your rights. Contact our office to speak with a Little Rock family lawyer today. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of Arkansas.