When is it OK to "touch" instead of just "look"? Divorce related.

My brother is going through a very amicable divorce. They knew it was falling appart for years - they both agreed on the terms…signed the papers and that was it.
From when they decided to give it up until she was totally out of the picture was about 4 months. Quite a short time for a divorce by any means. Anyway, his ex traveled every week Sunday through Friday night for the past 4 years. This was a contributing factor to their eventual dimise. And around 2 months ago my brother came to me and said he felt weird looking at women when he was still married.

With a little chiding on my part I was asking him what he meant: Apparently a women who he had been working with - who was his same age (37) - was a little smitten with him. He didn’t do anything about it until he was fully divorced but he still felt he slightly guilty.

Question: Had he done something - let’s say had sex with her - before everything was final would you find something morally wrong with this? BTW he had not been living with his ex for 2 months when this started with the other person.

Morally, yes. Technically, maybe not. But until his divorce he was not a free man and would have been unable to commit to anyone else if things had developed into a serious relationship. I see nothing wrong with taking her out to dinner or a movie while the paper work is finalized.

I wish your brother luck on the next chapter of his life.

I don’t know. I’d say the opposite. A marriage is over when the two people involved say that it is over. The paper work and legal issues can be very time consuming and have nothing to do with the fundamental divorce–just issues of property. It can take years, if there are any conflicts. If other people’s feelings are involved, say children who aren’t old enough to be expected to deal with dad seeing someone else so soon, there might be a moral issue, but otherwise, I’d say it was strictly technical.

Well, I’m of the standpoint that when your brother took his vows he meant them, and until the divorce is finalized he still means them. Until then it’s unofficial.

YMMV, of course.

Thank you and I agree.

Cher - he doesn’t have any children…and the divorce was as I said - amicable and everything was split 50/50. Unlike a lot of divorces which are hell on earth.

I think him taking her to dinner and whatnot whilst the paper work was being finalized was fine. He and his ex were not even living together at that time.

Tru dat. :cool:


Vows often say, “Til death do us part.”

Does that mean you’ve got to eliminate the former partner before you can date again?

I think most people would feel uncomfortable until the paperwork came through. But, just as the marriage is based on the vows, not the marriage certificate, I feel that the divorce is based on the verbal agreement to end the marriage, not the divorce papers. I guess the word “moral” is what is bothering me. Sleeping with her before it was official might be indecorous, but I wouldn’t call it immoral. That, to me, implies some sort of significant and deliberate harm being done.

I probably would have made the same decision in his case, but it would be more a matter of wanting that sense of closure. I wouldn’t look down on anyone who chose differently, though, unless they were hurting others involved.

I think part of the feeling comes from the fact that when we envision marriage we think of the vows–standing up in public to declare your intention to be faithful to each other, usually forever. There isn’t any comparable ceremony to declare that the union is dissolved–it’s all about the paperwork.

I’m with cher on this. When I got divorced (in California) there was a mandatory 6 month waiting period. You’d file the papers, and then 6 months later it was final. (I hadn’t been married long, had no assets, so was able to do a quickie divorce.)

It wasn’t ME that imposed the 6 months, it was the state. As far as I was concerned, it should have been final the day I filed. Just because the state drags its ass, doesn’t mean neither of us were able to move on with our lives.

I think that I am about the most qualified person here to answer this question. I am going through the exact same divorce as your brother. No kids, very friendly and it appears that your brother and I are roughly the same age. We will sign the final paperwork in less than a week. We will continue to live together until she finds a new place which will be in two or three weeks. We’re getting along fine and will be friends forever. As far as the legals go, we will be legally financially separate on Monday but because of the mandatory waiting period, our marriage won’t be dissolved until January.

As far as I am concerned, either of us are morally free to date now so long as we tell our dates the full situation. There is certainly no rush so I’m going to keep it cool until she moves into her own place. There is no need to be an asshole and rub her face in it. When she does move out, all bets are off and I will feel free to date and I won’t feel the least bit guilty. I may have a couple of lunch dates before then will feel just fine about that too.

I think it’s fine to “touch” as soon as both partners in the marriage have made their final decision but are still waiting for the paperwork to clear. Being a man of my convictions, I fully intend to walk the walk on this one.

I’m with haj and cher on this one.

From where does your brother come from? It’s pretty difficult to answer such a question without knowing this. As an atheist who consider marriage as being just paperwork, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sleeping with somebody else once you’ve decided that the relationship was over. Being married or not would be completely irrelevant to me.
The fact he feels guilty about it shows that he has a completely different background and that my moral stance probably wouldn’t make much sense to him.

Especially in an amicable divorce, I see nothing wrong with it at all. If both people are in agreement that the marriage is over, why should the technicality that the divorce isn’t final be a limiting factor? For most people I know, the fact that they weren’t married yet didn’t stop them from sleeping with each other.

Even when I was going through my divorce - because he wanted to be with another woman - the only thing I ever said regarding it was - not until you’ve moved out of the house. Beyond that, the marriage is over, why does it matter anymore?

Like clairobscur, I’m an atheist. I believe the sanctity of marriage is carried in the heart, not in paper. So once that’s broken, all’s fair, I say.

I’m going through a separation now. I’d have no problem with having an affair right now, as my “official” relationship is dead. Over. Kaput. The fact that I’m still living in the same house for a few days has no bearing on the moral aspect of it, other than that I would, out of courtesy and common sense, refrain from bringing somebody home here.

All that said, and I’m going to bloody well stay single indefinitely if I know what’s good for me. Paddle me own canoe. :smiley:


When you get married, the thing that keeps you faithful or loyal to your marriage partner, (and he to you), isnt a piece of paper stuffed in the wedding album or the word of whoever officiates at the wedding, its what’s in your heart.

In a divorce, in just the same way, its also not the Judge who decides when its over. Its over when you FILE for divorce. The rest as they say - is just ‘paperwork and geography’.

I dont know about moral judgements - I try hard not to make them - but if you’re living in the same house still, of COURSE you wouldnt bring someone else home - that would just be plain cruel.

As for waiting for the paperwork however - heres a thought. When you purchase a house - at least when you purchase one here in the UK, you go through the process of expressing an interest, making an offer, agreeing a price, and handing over the money. NOW, you have BOUGHT the house, you have PAID for the house, the house LEGITIMATELY, is yours. HOWEVER, with VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS, you actually move into the house WITHOUT the necessary paperwork being completed with the Land Registry - the office that registers your ‘title’ (legal ownership) to the deeds of the property.

In effect, you become a homeowner WITHOUT ACTUALLY being officially registered as such (without completion of all the paperwork that makes it final). Perhaps therefore in divorce, it could be said that you become a divorcee WITHOUT ACTUALLY being officially registered as such (completion of all the paperwork that makes it final).

The legal view on all this? Its not necessary to complete the transfer, what remains to be done is just paperwork.

Just a thought.

I can see the point that “it ain’t over 'till it’s over” but if I mess with the OP a little, I can come to a completely different conclusion.
What if the ex initiated the divorce, against the brother’s wishes, made it clear that the marriage is done, but dragged out the paperwork for a year or more… and then told her ex-to-be that for him to start a new relationship before the divorce was final is wrong? I would find it easy to disagree with her.
At that point, it is one person in an agreement not holding to their end, while still demanding the other party to live up to it. and that’s wrong.
So, if both parties decide to break the agreement, and neither is holding the other to it anymore either - it should be even easier to see the agreement to be void, no matter what the paperwork says.

Well, if it’s what is in your heart that matters, why bother with the legal wedding/marriage stuff at all?

I can see that I’m in the minority on this. That’s fine. IMHO and all. I still believe until one is legally divorced (as one was once legally married) then hands off.

Obviously not. :rolleyes: I was referring to whether one should date when one is still legally married, even if the marriage is technically over. Dating is one thing. Having sex is another matter. If you took the time and bother to make your marriage legal, you should take the time and bother to make your divorce legal.

Because there are serious legal issues invloved here such as rights of survivorship and the right to make emergency medical decisions. That’s why you “bother” with the legal wedding/marriage stuff. Do you really not understand that?

Give me a fucking break. So if I happened to be married in Nevada, I’d be ok on Monday. In California, I have to wait until January. In another State it would be a year after that. It’s totally arbitrary.

That’s just the legal part, of course. As for the ceremony, if any, I can only speak for myself, in saying that it was an important step that we wanted to celebrate with our friends and family.

The problem with divorce is that it’s the end of something that wasn’t supposed to end. The legal stuff has nothing to do with the marriage itself, especially with no children involved. It’s just the dissolution of an economic partnership.

But the vows he took were to his ex-wife, not to the state, and they cease to be binding once his wife releases him. The fact that the State takes another half a year to recognize this is immaterial, from a moral point of view.