While a legal separation is not the same as divorce, many people choose to date during this time, if they are sure a divorce from their spouse is inevitable. However, there are a few things to consider when it comes to dating during separation, depending on the laws of the state, and whether the couple has children.
A number of couples use separation, or controlled separation, as a way to see if the marriage can be saved. The two parties agree on a time frame in which they will be living apart, as if they were divorced--dating is usually not recommended during this time, since both parties should be focused on trying to improve their marriage.
If a couple decides the separation will definitely result in divorce, one or both parties may choose to start dating someone else during the divorce proceedings. The party that is dating someone else may, however, have a hard time winning battles over alimony and child custody in court.
Consequences for Women
If a woman who is going through a separation/divorce begins dating another man, her soon-to-be ex-husband can use this information to argue that she is an unfit mother for their children. This may prompt the judge to grant the ex-husband child custody.
Consequences for Men
If man who is separated from his wife begins dating another women, his wife can site this as a character flaw. The judge may use this to award the ex-wife more alimony in the divorce.
When to Date
While each state has different regulations on when it is acceptable to date, it's generally best to wait until the divorce is legally final to begin another relationship. Each couple can decide how long the separation will be, and whether each party is allowed to see other people, but divorce is an emotional process as well as a legal one. To avoid unnecessary battles in court, ending one relationship before beginning another is best.