A common misconception is a person separated from his or her spouse may date or go out with members of the opposite sex.

Lawyers generally have done a poor job of advising their clients as to dating.

The prohibition is not against dating; the prohibition is against adultery. Problems arise in trying to convince a hard-nosed adverse attorney and a skeptical judge what began as an innocent date did not end as adultery. If you and a date go to a public event or a restaurant with a group of people and are never alone together, then no reasonable person will find that adultery occurred; however, I do not recommend that you try it.

Few people are caught in the actual act of adultery. Adultery must usually be proved by circumstantial evidence. Two circumstances must be proved: First, the person is inclined to commit adultery, and second, the person had the opportunity to commit adultery. My domestic relations professor taught: "Everyone is inclined to commit adultery. Therefore all you really need to prove is opportunity." Opportunity may be two people alone in a home together, in a motel together, or a parked automobile together.

Separation is not divorce. This is true even where a written separation agreement, or even a court ordered separation, exists. Separation is the worst of two worlds. It has the disadvantages of being married, the disadvantages of being divorced, but has the benefits of neither.

Judges often make important decisions, such as child custody, alimony, the division of property, and attorney's fees, against the spouse at fault because of his adultery, habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty, or desertion. Of these, adultery probably has the greatest impact on the judge's decision.

A counselor friend of mine advises that no one should go out until they are comfortable staying home. The best rule is do not date until you are divorced.