Before Your Next (Make Sure This Spouse is Your Ex!)

Did you know that most people who file for a divorce have been thinking about it for two years before going to an attorney?  Most people will file a divorce when they finally accept that the marriage is no longer serving a legitimate purpose, but it takes a long time for most folks to realize the marriage has failed.  Even when people realize the marriage relationship is over, it often takes a long time for them to tell the other spouse or to find the “right time” to file.  Then after the divorce is filed, it may take several months or a year or more to complete the divorce.

During all this time it is not uncommon for the spouses to become emotionally disengaged from the each other before the divorce is completed.  Rather than live a lonely life, many people find someone new.  They are looking for their “next.” The “next” is the next relationship, the next spouse, or the next fling.  And who can blame them?  No one wants to be lonely.

Still, my advice for people facing a divorce is simple:  Before your next, make sure this spouse is your ex.  It sounds simple, but moving on with a new partner before your divorce is final can have negative consequences.  Here are some ideas to consider to help illustrate my point.

Community Property Still Accrues as Long as the Marriage Continues

Sometimes people’s marriage relationship comes to an end, but rather than get a divorce, they just move out.  Since living apart does not have any effect on a lawful marriage, the marriage continues until there is a divorce.  This means that the law regarding marital issues like debt, property, retirement accounts and more still applies to both spouses until the divorce is finalized.

The danger is one party accrues a lot of debt that the creditors start pursuing against the lawful spouse.  Or one spouse happily works for years earning a large 401(k) but some day the spouse comes out of the blue wanting his or her share of the retirement account!  There are many ways the spouse can come back into your life in some unexpected and seemingly unfair ways.  For a discussion of community property, see here.

New Partners Can Drive Up The Cost of Your Divorce

Most people are surprised to learn that Texas courts generally do not care if a spouse is cheating.  That’s right.  People expect a cheating spouse to be punished by the courts, but that doesn’t happen.  Texas law does not allow for that at all.  While it’s true that adultery can be used to blame the fault of the break-up of the marriage on the cheating spouse, the court only uses that if the cheater spent the community’s money on the paramour or if the innocent spouse is somehow disadvantaged by the cheating.  But as a rule, the courts don’t care about cheaters or cheating.

However, the innocent spouse may care very much about the cheating.  That may cause the innocent spouse to fight harder, want more hearing, want more of the community estate, want more possession of the children, and much more.  All of this drives up the financial, emotional, and mental cost of a divorce.  Waiting to move on to your next helps keep the moral high ground and reduce costs of your divorce.

Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm focusing on helping people get on with their new life by getting done with their old life.  This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel.  If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC.  For more information contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in and press Go.

Paul Youngblood #beforeyournext #lawfw #youngbloodlaw#collaborativedivorce