Rumor has it that Miss Piggy, after separating from her long-time love Kermit the Frog last month, has publicly announced her readiness to begin dating again. In fact, a photograph recently surfaced in which Miss Piggy and Dancing with the Stars alumni Derek Hough were seen in a warm and intimate embrace. Is this type of behavior acceptable when you are in the “gray area” of separation after marriage, but before divorce? Will it impact your ability to receive a fair and equitable distribution of your marital assets? How will it impact your ability to receive alimony?
After two parties separate, it is permissible for one or both parties to begin dating again, without receiving any ill treatment for such from the court. In fact, dating after separation has absolutely no effect on the equitable distribution of the parties’ marital estate. Although the court must review and weigh several factors, eleven in all, which include, but are not limited to, the parties’ standard of living during the marriage, the length of the parties’ marriage, each party’s age, health, education level and income level, among others, the judge is not permitted to consider any testimony surrounding the issue of dating after separation when determining the equitable distribution of the parties’ marital assets. It simply is not relevant to the division of the parties’ marital assets.
Dating after separation also has no effect on alimony. In fact, the law clearly states that a judge is not permitted to review or consider any conduct performed after the parties’ date of separation, dating included, when making its determination about the amount and term of an alimony award.
Remember, dating after separation cannot be confused with dating before separation, which can have a completely different outcome. For instance, if you begin dating another person before you separate from your spouse, you could find yourself defending against adultery charges in a divorce action. The judge can also weigh your infidelity against you when it comes time to award alimony, and if it is discovered that you spent marital assets funding the affair, a charge of “dissipation of marital assets” may be hurled against you.
Cara A. Boyanowski concentrates her practice in the field of domestic law and wills and estates. As a domestic law practitioner, she represents clients in simple and complex divorce, support, custody, alimony, step-parent adoptions, name change and same-sex divorce and custody matters. She works out of Obermayer’s Harrisburg, PA office and can be reached at 717-234-5315 or at Cara.Boyanowski@obermayer.com.