Regardless of what stage of divorce he is in, there are always potential long-term realities to be aware of when dating a divorced man or a divorced man with children.
Not every divorce or relationship has these qualities, but they are things to consider as you think about whether you want to be with him long-term.
He Has to Pay Alimony
Alimony is basically a court-ordered provision for a spouse to make payments to the other spouse, either by lump sum or on a continuing basis, for financial support and maintenance.
Not every divorce settlement has this. But in some cases it is possible he will be expected by the court to pay alimony to his ex for a period of time.
This might sometimes be frustrating for the woman a man dates after a divorce, as it may feel like money out of your pockets as a couple.
He Has to Pay Child Support
Child support is a series of court-ordered payments, typically made by a noncustodial divorced parent, to support one’s child or children. If your partner is a divorced dad and his children are minors, he will likely have to pay child support to help with housing, food, clothing, and expenses for school (even perhaps after-school activities and daycare, etc).
When children are involved, there will almost always be child support payment relationship requirements. Again, this can be frustrating, but remember that it is money going towards raising his children.
At the end of the day, would you really want to be with a man who is a deadbeat, and doesn’t support his children?
His Ex Will Always Be There
Usually, when couples split, it’s over, they usually don’t see each other anymore… Unless they have children or share assets like a house or rental property.
If your partner and his ex have children together, they will likely have to communicate with each other to arrange childcare (“Can you take the kids the weekend after next? I have a sales conference in Atlanta.”), discuss school issues (“Johnny has a C in Language Arts, what do you think about us getting him afterschool tutoring?”), and co-parent (“Jenny keeps refusing to eat breakfast, what should we do?”).
Or maybe they still share investment property and need to discuss matters regarding mending the fence or screening a renter.
Even if they’re no longer married, they might still have a parenting or business relationship. The best-case scenario: they’re both adults about it and they don’t abuse the fact that strings are still attached. The worst-case scenario: one party tries to manipulate the other party by using the assets or the kids to threaten the other party.
I’ve seen both (best case and worst case).
There are levelheaded adults in this world who will actually do the right thing; I have personally met them. But, it’s really unfortunate when you see adults devolve to the maturity level of sixth graders (Do you remember middle school? Not fun, right?) to try and get what they want.
What I mean to say is: pay attention to how he interacts with his ex. Pay attention to his attitude and demeanor.
How do they handle matters? How does he talk to her? How does he talk about her when he’s not talking to her?
I once dated a guy who referred to his ex as “that stupid bitch.”
Now, I believe that you don’t have to like someone, but I think everyone deserves to be respected as a person—as human beings. Sure, he can hate her guts and think she’s as dumb as a doornail, but that doesn’t give him license to disrespect her—even if she is a real bitch!
Plus, if he’s telling other people that his ex is a “stupid bitch”, what do you think he’s likely going to say about you, if you cross him one day?
Anyway—his ex will always be a part of his life if they have kids and if they co-parent. Check in with yourself to see what comes up for you around that fact, and find out if you’re ok with that.
He Needs to Take Care of His Kids (and Sometimes Cover for His Ex)
The more you spend time with him and his kids, the quicker you’ll realize how much care and attention kids need.
From cooking meals, help with homework, shuttling them to a friend’s house, clarinet lessons, soccer practice, to staying home with them when they’re too sick to go to school, or comforting them in the middle of the night after they’ve had a bad dream; kids require a lot of attention.
A man who has children who live with him (even part time) is not going to be able to give all his time and attention to the new woman in his life. Some of his weekends will be spent helping with a school science project or term paper. Or maybe their mom will have a work emergency, and he’ll have to take the kids for the night. There are a million scenarios.
This isn’t a bad thing (unless, of course, you want a relationship where it’s just the two of you); he’s just being a responsible father.
But if you notice yourself feeling resentful that he’s spending so much time with his kids, take a look at what that may mean about the relationship. What need or desire is not being met? And is it a requirement for you?
There’s Lack of Spontaneity
When children are involved, it can also be harder to find some spontaneity for your date nights and your sex life.
Nights with the kids will instead likely revolve around preparing meals, doing homework, and getting ready for bed.
Some of your movie nights out might consist of watching the latest Disney flick instead of that French documentary that you’ve wanted to see. Or you may have to plan your date nights weeks in advance to arrange for childcare.
Or maybe your sexy time is interrupted by a child crying in the other room (or even showing up in your bedroom!) because they had a nightmare.
If you have never personally raised children yourself, this can be a bit of an adjustment from your previous lifestyle.
Take a look at what you need to have a fun, fulfilling relationship. What does it look like for you? What matters to you?
Again, remember that every man and situation will be different. These situations don’t apply to everyone, but they are relatively common in relationships with a divorced dad.
The important thing is to prioritize what really matters to you. And then choose how you want to approach these issues and what they really mean for you and the life and relationship that you want.