“Dating Advice From A Family Law Attorney”

This is a slightly unusual blog post for me, because I am not going to give legal advice, but rather, personal advice based on seeing thousands of break-ups over the years. If I had to distill my advice into one short saying, it would be “Don’t ignore the signs.”

There’s an old song sung by the group Ace of Base called “I Saw The Sign,” and it’s a peppy song that’s basically about a breakup and seeing the light about the defects in a former love. It’s quite pithy in spots:

“I saw the sign and it opened up my mind
And I am happy now living without you
I’ve left you
I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
No one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong”

This is a really common theme in breakups that I hear, seeing the signs, but unfortunately, I hear it most often AFTER someone has kids in common with an individual. «I should have seen the signs earlier» is something I hear all the time. And there ARE certain signs you just cannot afford to ignore:

1. Substance abuse. If this is a problem that seriously impacts their life in any way (I’m not talking about some beers on a Friday night—you will know if it is something to be concerned about) then stay away. If they tell you they are going to fix the problem, they need to do that on their own, first, and show it is going to STAY fixed before they are ready for a relationship.

2. Overly controlling. This is an issue that tends to get worse over time. It often goes hand in hand with obsession after a breakup.

3. Violence. This is just a huge warning sign. It is unacceptable, it does escalate, and you will get hurt.

4. Constant arguments over cheating or exes.

5. Lifestyles and backgrounds that are very different and have incompatibilities. The new and different may seem exciting, but it can be hard to bridge those gaps over the long term.

6. Someone who wants to move too fast. Good relationships take time. They take work. They take building. If someone is moving at a very fast pace and wants to move in, etc., very quickly, the relationship is likely to fall apart nearly as quickly.

Make sure you watch the signs. Be smart. If it’s the right thing, give it time. And whatever you do, if you’re not 100% sure, don’t have children with that person. It *never* fixes problems, and 18 years is a long time to fight over custody and child support. So listen to the advice of the song. Don’t ignore the signs. You can’t fix someone and drag them up into the light. They have to do that for themselves, and if you try, you’ll only end up going through a dark period that you will need a lawyer to help drag you out of.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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