When you’ve made the decision to get a divorce, you may be eager to move on with your life and start dating again. However, divorce takes time. In California, you have to wait at least six months to have your split finalized by the state. That’s just the minimum waiting period. A divorce can take much longer if there are any disputes about child custody, financial support, or how property should be divided.

Do you have to stay single while you’re in the middle of a divorce, or can you jump back into the dating pool? Is it okay to download a dating app like Tinder to start your search for a new partner, or could that hurt you in the divorce?

Generally speaking, you are free to start dating whenever you’d like. However, dating could affect certain aspects of your divorce, especially if you have kids.

You Don’t Have to Stay Single During a Divorce

Getting divorced can be a very lonely time. A divorce is also very emotionally challenging for many people. It’s understandable to want to seek comfort and support during this time. It’s also your right to do so.

California is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that you don’t have to point fingers and assign blame to end your marriage. All you have to do is tell the state that there are irreconcilable differences in your marriage. You just have to say that you and your spouse have differences that cannot be overcome. No one has to take the blame.

Since no one has to shoulder the blame for a divorce, the appearance of infidelity doesn’t really matter. Your spouse can’t use the fact that you’ve decided to see someone else while you’re still technically married against you. They might not be happy about it, but it can’t be used to their benefit when it comes to things like property division or spousal support. Those issues are resolved under state law, where fault or blame is typically irrelevant.

Spouses Can, And Do, Enter the Dating Pool Before Divorces Are Finalized

In the spring of 2019, Pitch Perfect star Anna Camp filed for divorce from co-star and husband Skylar Astin. The two had been married since October 2016. After he was served with divorce papers, Aston Wasted little time before downloading Raya, a popular dating app.

He began to play the field and date, despite the fact that he was still legally married to Camp. This appears to have little-to-no impact on their divorce. Earlier this month, the two agreed to split the Los Angeles home they shared while they were together and waive the right to request alimony. Publically, both have maintained that the split was “mutual and amicable.”

Dating Could Affect Your Child Custody Negotiations

Dating might not hurt your ability to get a divorce, seek spousal support, or get half of the community property in your split. However, the fact that you are dating someone new might have an impact on one major part of your divorce if you have kids: custody.

You can’t finalize your divorce until you and your spouse have agreed to all of the terms of your split. This includes who gets custody of the kids, and when. If your spouse learns that you’re dating, they may not want your kids to be around your new love interest. They might refuse to negotiate or demand sole custody. The fact that you’re dating could potentially stall the divorce and extend the amount of time it takes to finalize.

If you and your spouse can’t agree on a custody agreement, a court will step in and make a plan for you. In California, courts will always do what’s in the best interest of any children affected by a divorce.

In theory, your spouse could argue that your new love interest poses a threat to your kids. Your spouse could ask a court to limit custody to limit your childrens’ exposure to your new partner. A judge would then have to review your specific situation and determine how visitation and custody should be awarded.

While dating shouldn’t adversely affect your ability to get custody of your kids, it could certainly complicate things. At the very least, it could foster bad feelings and stall negotiations, which could lengthen the time it takes to get divorced. If you have children, it might make sense to put your dating life on hold until after your split is recognized by the state.