One of the questions that divorce lawyers are often asked is whether it is permissible to live with a new partner before divorce proceedings have finished. There are several different and important issues which are raised by this question.
There is nothing ‘illegal’ in a spouse starting to live with a new partner before a divorce is concluded, and so no crime will be committed. An ex-spouse (or soon to be ex-spouse) can do nothing in law to prevent it – except in some rare circumstances, for example where it might be alleged that a child/children would be harmed by coming into contact with the new partner.
Divorce lawyers are not and would not want to be regarded as arbiters of how their clients decide to live. Lawyers are experts in the law and their role is to advise on the legal status and implications of actions taken or proposed by their clients. This advice is invariably affected by their understanding from their experience of the wisest courses for their clients to take.
The real question, therefore is…
If there is nothing illegal in a spouse cohabiting with a new partner before the divorce is finished, and if the other spouse cannot prevent it by taking any legal action, it may seem ironic that in the majority of cases a divorce lawyer will advise a client against taking that step.
This advice will be given for a number of different reasons:
Even between couples who are able to maintain a reasonable relationship after a separation, divorce is an emotional and unsettling experience. There are invariably issues of great delicacy which have to be resolved and lawyers are well placed to advise of the best courses of action to take to achieve a lasting and fair solution. It would be a rare situation where the premature introduction of a new partner for one of the spouses will do anything except to make that task more complex.
As always the importance of taking sound advice early in the process cannot be overemphasised.
If you or anyone you know are affected by the issues raised above and would like more information or some preliminary, confidential advice, please contact one of our experienced experts in our Family team by e-mail or telephone.