Adultery not only means betraying your partner’s trust, but it can also lead to filing for divorce. If one spouse wishes to use adultery as the grounds for divorce, he or she must prove his or her spouse’s adulterous behavior.
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Divorce & Adultery Laws in South Carolina
South Carolina law says adultery happens when one spouse meets routinely for intimate interactions with another party who is not that person’s spouse. Sexual intercourse is not required for such meetings to be adulterous, though sex is also grounds for adultery. Adultery can be used as grounds for divorce in South Carolina.
Proving Adultery in South Carolina
As adultery often happens without the knowledge of the non-cheating spouse, it can be difficult to obtain undeniable evidence of any adulterous acts. However, South Carolina law allows for circumstantial evidence to prove that adultery has occurred. This can include text messages, phone calls, and testimony from the non-cheating spouse and others.
Evidence involved in charges of adultery must prove both motive and opportunity. As such, evidence should show that the cheating spouse intended to commit adultery and that there was an opportunity to do so, such as records of planned meetings between the two parties.
If you are seeking evidence of your spouse’s possibly adulterous actions, it is important that you obtain the evidence through legal means. Illegally acquired evidence cannot be part of your claim, even if it is definitive. You should instead search for texts, emails, phone calls, social media posts, and testimonies to which you have legal access.
What Happens Once You Prove Adultery?
After a spouse has proven that their partner has committed adultery, several things can happen. South Carolina law considers adultery as a crime punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or fines with a maximum limit of $500.
If the non-cheating spouse also wants to use the adultery as grounds for divorce, he or she may do so, as long as they have proof of the offense. It can also play a role in several other aspects of the divorce, as outlined in South Carolina Code.
No Waiting Period for Filing
A no-fault divorce requires a one-year separation period before filing for divorce. Filing with adultery as the main grounds waives that waiting period, allowing the married couple to move forward with the divorce without delay. Adultery does not affect the minimum three month waiting period for the final version of the divorce decree that applies to fault-based divorces.
In addition to the initial filing for divorce, adultery can also affect any potential alimony payments the adulterous spouse may have otherwise qualified for or received. In addition to acts of adultery that occurred before the divorce, South Carolina law can also apply the bar on alimony for any sexual relations committed during periods of separation in a no-fault divorce.
In most cases, adultery will have little or no effect on the distribution of marital property. However, if the adulterous spouse used significant levels of marital funds on the individual he or she was cheating with, then the court will likely rule that the non-cheating spouse deserves some compensation for the loss of funds and will distribute marital property accordingly.
Alienation of Affection: Can You Sue Someone for Breaking Up Your Marriage in South Carolina?
Unfortunately, South Carolina does not recognize alienation of affection as grounds to sue for adultery. Some states allow for "alienation of affection" claims, where you sue your ex-spouse or their lover for adultery or otherwise breaking up your marriage, but not South Carolina.
Because of the role adultery can play in a divorce, it’s important to keep track of any evidence to help support your grounds for divorce. Having the help of a skilled Fort Mill family law attorney can also help ensure that your divorce proceeds smoothly and that you receive your fair share of marital property and any legally required financial support.
If you’re ready to file for divorce in Fort Mill, contact David W. Martin to help you through the process of proving adultery and finalizing your divorce.