Under South Carolina law, adultery is defined as intercourse between a married person and someone other than that person’s spouse. Commonly, we refer to it as “cheating.” In South Carolina, cheating on your spouse can have some serious financial and legal consequences when you decide it is time to file for divorce.
The following are 6 Things You Should Know About Adultery in South Carolina:
- Proving adultery can speed up the divorce process. If the faithful spouse can prove their spouse committed adultery, he or she can file for a fault-based divorce. A fault-based divorce allows you to file immediately for divorce, and then request a final hearing for the divorce judgment to be entered in 90 days. While this may seem like a long time, consider the alternative. When a no-fault divorce situation arises, the parties must remain separate and apart for one year prior to filing for divorce. And, even then, the parties must wait until a hearing is scheduled.
- A cheating spouse is not entitled to alimony. In South Carolina, a spouse who has committed adultery is generally barred from receiving alimony. Although several other factors are also considered, a spouse who cheats does not typically get to collect alimony. There may be an exception if both parties were unfaithful, or the non-cheating spouse “condoned” the affair, which means the faithful spouse knew about the adultery and allowed it. Importantly, adultery can also impact the distribution of assets in a divorce proceeding. Marital fault (i.e. adultery) is considered one of several factors when a court determines how to divide the assets of the marital estate.
- Adultery does not affect child support. Child support is calculated based on certain factors, including the number of children, the number of nights each parent has the children in his or her home, the parties’ incomes, etc. Adultery is never a factor in calculating a child support obligation. However, child custody may be affected if adultery is proven in court, and the court determines that the actions of the cheating spouse were not in the best interest of the children. For example, a judge may find that exposing your children to a new boyfriend or girlfriend while you are still married had a negative impact on the children in certain circumstances. This does not always carry the weight some have hoped but still may be used by the faithful spouse in a court hearing.
- It may still be cheating if you are seeing someone while separated from your spouse. In South Carolina, you are still married until a final divorce decree is signed by a judge. That may be clear to some BUT other states, including North Carolina, no longer consider it adultery if in fact you are separated. South Carolina law dictates that if you date while separated, then your spouse is allowed to make the argument that you are committing adultery, which could have some legal consequences. Importantly, if you are likely to receive alimony, the act of dating or the perception that you are having sexual relations while you are still married, could prevent you from receiving an alimony award.
- There must be adequate proof of adultery. Adequate proof does not necessarily mean pictures or videos of the cheating spouse caught red-handed committing adultery. Instead, the faithful spouse must prove that the cheating spouse had both the inclination and opportunity to commit adultery. Inclination might be shown if the cheating spouse was seen showing affection in public towards their paramour, i.e. holding hands, kissing, hugging. Opportunity might be shown if the cheating spouse and his paramour were in a private place alone for enough time to have the “opportunity” to commit adultery. For example, proving that the cheating spouse and the paramour spent the night together in a hotel room might show adequate inclination and opportunity even if they claim sexual intercourse did not occur.
- The cheating spouse could end up paying the faithful spouse’s attorney fees (and their own). If a faithful spouse is successful in proving to the court that the other spouse committed adultery, the cheating party can be ordered by the judge to pay the faithful spouse’s legal fees and other costs related to the court action.
If you have any questions about how a Family Law Attorney can assist you, please contact Sodoma Law York at 803-366-0001 or fill out the form on the right. We are a family driven family focused law firm. Our attorneys are smart, tenacious, compassionate and ready to assist you with any of your family law needs.