Can you date while getting a divorce in South Carolina?
Although some websites say, “no – you cannot date while you are separated,” it’s not that simple. Dating while you are getting a divorce can hurt your case, but South Carolina law also allows you to see other people while separated under some circumstances.
In this article, we will cover the basics of when it is okay to date while getting a divorce, including:
- How dating can negatively impact your divorce proceedings,
- How dating can affect other matters like alimony, division of property, and child custody, and
- When it is okay to date while getting a divorce in South Carolina.
Dating & South Carolina Divorce Proceedings
Although separation may feel like freedom, some things will affect your divorce proceedings if you are not careful – one of these is seeing other people before your divorce is final.
Although South Carolina law permits you to date under certain circumstances, if you don’t follow the rules below it can negatively impact your divorce proceedings, and it can affect issues like fault grounds for divorce, alimony, division of marital assets, and child custody.
How Does Dating Affect the Various Aspects of a Divorce Case?
No-Fault Divorce or Fault Divorce?
First, you must understand that adultery is a fault-based ground for divorce in South Carolina. Even though you are separated from your spouse, if you are seeing other people, you are committing adultery unless there is a signed, written separation agreement or court order in place that would allow it.
This means that what you thought was a no-fault divorce based on one year’s continuous separation could quickly become a fault-based divorce based on adultery.
One way that dating while separated can affect your divorce case is when either party is seeking alimony. There are two ways that adultery can affect alimony in your case:
- If you are seeking alimony, be aware that South Carolina Code § 20-3-130(A) says that adultery cannot be awarded to a spouse who commits adultery, and
- If your spouse is seeking alimony, be aware that South Carolina Code § 20-3-130(C)(10) says that one of the factors the court must consider when deciding whether to award alimony and how much is marital misconduct that contributed to the breakup of the marriage – including adultery.
Division of Property
Another way that dating while separated can affect your divorce proceedings is when it comes to the division of marital property. One of the factors the court must consider when dividing marital assets under South Carolina Code Section 20-3-620 is marital misconduct that contributed to the breakup of the marriage – including adultery.
If you are seeing other people before there is a final order or permanent separation agreement, this may be considered marital misconduct, and the court can use this to make you pay – in alimony and in marital property.
Finally, one of the factors that the court will consider when deciding child custody is “immoral” conduct by either spouse, and the court is likely to find that adultery is immoral conduct.
Even in cases where you have a permanent separation agreement in place and it is not adultery for you to date other people, you must be careful who you date and what you expose your children to – the court may decide it is not in the child’s best interests to give you custody if:
- You have overnight visits when the child is present,
- Your new romantic interest uses alcohol or drugs in front of the child,
- They engage in other illegal activities, or
- The court finds that you are exposing the child to a new partner whose presence is harmful to the child in any way.
When is it Okay to Date if You are Getting a Divorce in South Carolina?
This doesn’t mean that you can’t date while you are getting a divorce, but 1) you must understand the potential consequences if you do not follow the rules, and 2) you must know what the rules are.
So, when is it okay to date?
Whether it is regarding alimony or the division of marital property, South Carolina law says that the court cannot consider dating as a factor if it happened after:
- The formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement, or
- The court has entered a permanent order of separate support and maintenance or a permanent order approving our marital settlement agreement.
This doesn’t affect the child custody considerations, though – even if there is a court order approving your separation agreement, the court can deny child custody based on the person or persons you are dating if the court finds that it is not in the child’s best interest to be exposed to that person.
You can date while getting divorced if you follow the rules, if you are careful about who you date, and if you take care not to expose your children to any new romantic interests.
Questions About Whether You Can Date While Getting a Divorce?
If you decide to date other people while your divorce case is pending, you should consult with an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney first who can answer your questions and help you to get a signed, written marital settlement agreement in place so that your dating does not negatively affect the issues in your case like fault-based grounds for divorce, alimony, division of assets, or child custody.
Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.
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