Author Topic: Disclosure etiquette  (Read 21102 times)

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whiterose

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Disclosure etiquette
« on: June 05, 2012, 07:22:08 AM »
If a person has previously been married (whether it ended through divorce or death of a spouse), how early should he or she disclose it to potential romantic partners?

Should he/she list it in his/her profile if on a dating site?

Should he/she disclose it on the first date?

If it was a clean/amicable divorce that was final years ago, is it ever okay to not disclose it until the other person asks?

Is it ever acceptable to not reveal from the very beginning that you are still legally married?

Should a person assume that the other person will search public records and thus assume that he/she does not have to reveal previous marriages because the other person will find out through online searches?

All of this is assuming that first marriage did not result in children, and thus there is no concrete evidence of its happening. How late is it too late to disclose a previous marriage without engaging in deceit?
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purplemuse

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2012, 07:29:30 AM »
Not sure about the rest, but I think a current marriage, even if only on paper, needs to be disclosed ASAP-- before the first date, if possible.

I know for me (and I'm sure, others) it's a big enough dealbreaker that I would feel deceived if the information wasn't disclosed (as opposed to certain other issues that might come up naturally in the course of conversation).

QueenofAllThings

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2012, 07:33:31 AM »
I'm not sure why someone would want to hide it (and no, I don't think it's acceptable to 'not reveal' that you are still legally married).

I've been out of the dating scene for some 13 years now, but I would think that past marriages would come up relatively early in the conversation. Whether it was five or fifteen years ago, it was a major event in life, and shouldn't be avoided - it seems almost like a lie by omission to me. I'm not saying that on the first date you need to blurt out that you're divorced, but it should come out naturally while getting to know each other.

Person A: How long have you lived in Chicago?
Person B: I moved here after my divorce.

Person C: Wow! You collect vinyl? That's awesome!
Person D: I love it. My ex was in the record business and that's how I got into it.

I would never assume that you don't need to mention it because someone will do a public records search (if I did a search and discovered it, I'd really wonder why you hadn't mentioned it - what are you 'hiding'?)

Swimmer_Heather

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2012, 07:46:23 AM »
I agree that a current marriage needs to be disclosed at the beginning.

The others don't need to be disclosed immediately, but should eventually crop up in conversation.  You shouldn't expect that other people will do a record search on your history, and the sort of person who evaluates their date by trawling through marriage registries doesn't necessarily sound like a good prospect to date.  (Although evaluating your date by Googling their name is easy and common.)

Sometimes a divorce or death may have been a significant trauma, and might come into discussions only after people feel comfortable with each other.  It's good to be honest about past relationship history, but it doesn't have to be all laid out at the start.

Perfect Circle

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2012, 08:24:52 AM »
Current marriage should definitely be immediate disclosure.

The other examples - well, they do need to be discussed quite early like every other serious issue in a relationship, whether emotional or sexual in nature. But they do not need to be disclosed upfront immediately, I think before getting serious or exclusive is fine.

ETA - going through public records would never enter my head and I have to say I'd probably end a relationship immediately if I found out someone I was dating had done to that to me rather than ask me upfront.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 08:31:38 AM by Perfect Circle »
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Winterlight

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2012, 09:34:20 AM »
If a person has previously been married (whether it ended through divorce or death of a spouse), how early should he or she disclose it to potential romantic partners? I vote for early on. You don't have to make a thing out of it, just a casual mention.

Should he/she list it in his/her profile if on a dating site? Yes.

Should he/she disclose it on the first date? Not necessarily the first date, but fairly soon in.

If it was a clean/amicable divorce that was final years ago, is it ever okay to not disclose it until the other person asks? No. Especially if there's any chance your ex might walk up to you while on the date. *g*

Is it ever acceptable to not reveal from the very beginning that you are still legally married? NO!

Should a person assume that the other person will search public records and thus assume that he/she does not have to reveal previous marriages because the other person will find out through online searches? No. While googling your date has become more prevalent, you still need to tell them.

All of this is assuming that first marriage did not result in children, and thus there is no concrete evidence of its happening. How late is it too late to disclose a previous marriage without engaging in deceit? I think if you are a month in and never mentioned this, I'd definitely wonder why.
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LadyClaire

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2012, 09:59:01 AM »
Current marriage should definitely be immediate disclosure.

The other examples - well, they do need to be discussed quite early like every other serious issue in a relationship, whether emotional or sexual in nature. But they do not need to be disclosed upfront immediately, I think before getting serious or exclusive is fine.

ETA - going through public records would never enter my head and I have to say I'd probably end a relationship immediately if I found out someone I was dating had done to that to me rather than ask me upfront.

I agree completely with this. I would like to know if someone has been previously married at some point, and I'd want to know before we ever even started dating if they were still legally married.

Visiting Crazy Town

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2012, 10:04:33 AM »
Current marriage should definitely be immediate disclosure.

The other examples - well, they do need to be discussed quite early like every other serious issue in a relationship, whether emotional or sexual in nature. But they do not need to be disclosed upfront immediately, I think before getting serious or exclusive is fine.

ETA - going through public records would never enter my head and I have to say I'd probably end a relationship immediately if I found out someone I was dating had done to that to me rather than ask me upfront.

  Bolded would seriously creep me out and if the what if it isn't even that person.  a lot of people have the same name so you could be looking at the public record of someone else rather than the person you are dating

whiterose

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2012, 10:33:06 AM »
Say, for example, Robert and Alice have been dating for a few months. Neither one of them has mentioned a previous marriage- but has not explicitly asked the other about a previous marriage either. Robert and Alice are both in their late 30s. Robert has never been married before...

But Alice has been previously married and divorced. Divorce was finalized 7 years ago. There was no property owned, no children, no alimony, and no complications- it was as clean and amicable as could be. It was in another state- so local and state records would not show anything anyway, even if Robert searched. Alice has no ties to the ex.

Robert and Alice begin discussing marriage. Robert is thrilled saying that it will be his the first time. Alice states that she has been married before but did not have a wedding ceremony or reception. Robert is surprised and asks Alice why did she not tell him that she had been previously married. Alice replies "You did not ask".

Did Robert do anything wrong in not asking? Or was Alice supposed to let Robert know about her divorce early on- especially way before the 6 month mark when they began discussing marriage? Was Robert supposed to ask? Does age make a difference?
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Zilla

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2012, 10:44:11 AM »
Say, for example, Robert and Alice have been dating for a few months. Neither one of them has mentioned a previous marriage- but has not explicitly asked the other about a previous marriage either. Robert and Alice are both in their late 30s. Robert has never been married before...

But Alice has been previously married and divorced. Divorce was finalized 7 years ago. There was no property owned, no children, no alimony, and no complications- it was as clean and amicable as could be. It was in another state- so local and state records would not show anything anyway, even if Robert searched. Alice has no ties to the ex.

Robert and Alice begin discussing marriage. Robert is thrilled saying that it will be his the first time. Alice states that she has been married before but did not have a wedding ceremony or reception. Robert is surprised and asks Alice why did she not tell him that she had been previously married. Alice replies "You did not ask".

Did Robert do anything wrong in not asking? Or was Alice supposed to let Robert know about her divorce early on- especially way before the 6 month mark when they began discussing marriage? Was Robert supposed to ask? Does age make a difference?


In this scenario, since it never came up before or was asked, I think Alice was perfectly in the clear.  It happened 7 years ago, it was amicable and did not "change" Alice drastically.


It's like discussing previous boyfriends, if it isn't asked or comes up in conversation, I see no reason to disclose it.


And when a conversation about marriage did come up, she was like Oh, I was married before.  This is how it comes up.


With this caveat: No children and no crazy ex stalking.

Judah

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2012, 10:54:57 AM »
Say, for example, Robert and Alice have been dating for a few months. Neither one of them has mentioned a previous marriage- but has not explicitly asked the other about a previous marriage either. Robert and Alice are both in their late 30s. Robert has never been married before...

But Alice has been previously married and divorced. Divorce was finalized 7 years ago. There was no property owned, no children, no alimony, and no complications- it was as clean and amicable as could be. It was in another state- so local and state records would not show anything anyway, even if Robert searched. Alice has no ties to the ex.

Robert and Alice begin discussing marriage. Robert is thrilled saying that it will be his the first time. Alice states that she has been married before but did not have a wedding ceremony or reception. Robert is surprised and asks Alice why did she not tell him that she had been previously married. Alice replies "You did not ask".

Did Robert do anything wrong in not asking? Or was Alice supposed to let Robert know about her divorce early on- especially way before the 6 month mark when they began discussing marriage? Was Robert supposed to ask? Does age make a difference?


In this scenario, since it never came up before or was asked, I think Alice was perfectly in the clear.  It happened 7 years ago, it was amicable and did not "change" Alice drastically.


It's like discussing previous boyfriends, if it isn't asked or comes up in conversation, I see no reason to disclose it.


And when a conversation about marriage did come up, she was like Oh, I was married before.  This is how it comes up.


With this caveat: No children and no crazy ex stalking.

I agree with Zilla.  Since the divorce was amicable, there were no chldren or property, and no reason to think the previous marriage would impact the current relationship, I can see Alice just not thinking about it.  It's probably not something that's at the forefront of her mind. 

A current marriage, even if it's only a technicality, needs to be disclosed upfront.
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dearabby

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2012, 10:56:20 AM »
My rule of thumb is this: Is the event something that has some bearing on my current life?

So I think people should definitely disclose early on their current marital status if they are still legally married, separated, or very freshly divorced. They should also disclose within the first few dates whether they have children, a stalker ex, mental or physical issues. I'd probably throw any major fiscal things into that mix, like being currently unemployed or different living situation.

My background is very similar to Alice's, so I don't bring up the divorce (especially since it was disclosed on my dating profile), but I would mention it in passing at some point. (e.g. Oh yeah, I've been to X island - that was where ex-DH and I were married). I don't think it's ever gone more than a few weeks without being discussed.

At some point it feels a bit odd that it hasn't come up and if I were the guy I'd wonder if she'd kept it from me for a reason. But if they were straightforward in other aspects, I'd let it slide.

TurtleDove

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2012, 11:05:57 AM »
I don't think past marriages or divorces are something shameful or always negative factors when dating.  I know oftentimes a divorced person looks for another divorced person who has experienced marriage, living with someone, heartbreak, etc.  Oftentimes a widow seeks out a widower who also understands the loss of a spouse.  Some people are turned off by past relationships, others see them as positives because of the experience the person brings to the current relationship.

I cannot imagine this not coming up in normal getting to know you conversation.  I would advise people to reveal past significant relationships early on in a positive light.  For example, "My husband cheated on me, which is why we got divorced.  It really taught me to respect trust in relationships."

whiterose

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2012, 11:12:52 AM »
Assume that either Alice did not list it on her dating profile because they did not ask about previous marriages (only if she was not currently legally married), or that Robert and Alice did not meet through a dating site/service and thus it would not have had a reason to come up (say, they met at church/work/social organization/online message board about a shared hobby/party/etc.). Hence Robert would not have had any way to know that Alice had been previously married unless he had asked directly. Does Alice still have to mention it first?

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TurtleDove

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2012, 11:17:35 AM »
Does Alice still have to mention it first?

Have to?  No, but it would seem odd that it would never come up and depending on circumstances and personalities, it makes sense that Robert would feel deceived.  It would then be up to Robert to determine if the perceived "deception" is a deal breaker or not.  Again, I cannot fathom a dating getting to know you situation where a past marriage would not come up in coversation naturally, and if Alice purposefully concealed the marriage when it would naturally have been mentioned, I would say she is taking a pretty big risk.