According to Ayesha Vardag, President of the British family law firm Vardags, “judging a woman’s worth by the man she’s dating is Victorian.” Vardag is considered Britain’s top divorce lawyers, according to her rating by the The Law Society.
Mr. Justice Nicholas Mostyn reduced a divorce settlement to a single mother because she had been dating someone for nine months during the divorce proceedings. This was after the breakdown and collapse of her marriage.
“If one makes a needs assessment on the basis that she is a single woman and she soon cohabits, then the paying party… can rightly feel significantly aggrieved,” the former QC wrote in his report.
The message Mostyn sent was clear: women should not be dating during their divorce proceedings at all cost, as any new boyfriend could be viewed as a financial asset or as providing financial security. In other words, the woman will be “taken care of” by whichever man they’re dating, so why would she ever need her own money?
Mostyn condemned dating during divorce proceedings and went as far as to refer to it as a “fly in the ointment.” Essentially, Mostyn promoted abstinence until the proceedings are over, or the woman risks muddying the waters of her divorce filing.
On the other hand, Vardag firmly believes the settlement should not be affected by the number of liaisons — whether meaningful or not — a woman might have during divorce proceedings.
It appears as though if a woman has improved her financial standing during the course of her marriage, it is acceptable for her to carry on with her life following the end of her marriage and subsequent divorce proceedings. However, if a woman is requesting alimony or spousal support while dating another man over the course of filing for divorce, Mostyn frowns upon this.
“Dating before you’ve settled your divorce won’t affect child support, but it can affect maintenance (alimony) if the man or woman is already living with someone else,” says Carla Zolan, Owner of the Zolman Law Firm. “Each judge in family law has puts their own particular spin on each case; they bring with them their past experiences which could be different from other judge’s experiences.”
Under English law, as with many countries, the party who is in better financial standing must pay out in order to meet the other party’s requirements. However, if the other party is already dating someone, it increases the chances that someone else may have to pick up the tab.
“Not dating someone while the divorce is underway makes it simpler to settle, you focus only on what you’re dividing. Its cleaner, its neater,” says Zolan.
Though Mostyn accepts the fact that it is unfair to assume dating will ultimately lead to cohabitation and them marriage, he does recommend proceeding with caution. Mostyn warns that if a husband pays to provide for a woman on the grounds that she is single, but then begins dating or living with a boyfriend soon thereafter, the husband will rightfully feel betrayed.
In one motion, Mostyn has seemingly changed the principles by which alimony is assessed.