Can I Start Dating During the South Carolina Divorce Waiting Period?

At the David W. Martin Law Group, our South Carolina family law attorneys know most spouses understand there is a one-year waiting period to get divorced in the Palmetto State. What they may not consider before deciding to dissolve their marriages is that the South Carolina Family Courts take the one-year waiting period very seriously — and expects divorcing spouses to do the same. This means remaining separate and single during the waiting period.

Technically, no law that specifically states couples may not date other people while they are navigating the divorce waiting period. However, it is important to note that while the mandatory waiting period unfolds, you are still married. This means having a relationship with another person could be viewed by the courts as adultery.

In South Carolina, adultery is considered marital misconduct, and may negatively affect your divorce in many ways, including alimony, property division, and child custody decisions.

Here is what South Carolina residents need to know.

How Can I Be Accused of Adultery When We are Separated and Why Does It Impact the Outcome of My Divorce?

While deciding to divorce requires a one-year separation period in South Carolina, there is actually no such thing as legal separaton. This means, and the courts will stress this point, you are still married.

If you begin dating before your divorce is final, your spouse only needs to show that you had the opportunity and the inclination to commit adultery — not that you are actually having an intimate relationship with another person.

If he or she can prove this is true, by hiring a private investigator, or simply following you to a private place where an intimate relationship could take place (whether it does or not), it may impact your ability to be awarded alimony. “Cheating” spouses cannot be awarded alimony in South Carolina.

In other cases, adultery — again, whether it occurred or not — will impact how your property is divided. “Cheating” spouses may be awarded less than their equitable share during the division, as the court sees fit.

Finally, any judge will frown upon parents dating before they are officially divorced, as their children’s best interests — and emotional stability — are the court’s primary concern. Going from one marriage into another relationship puts an enormous amount of stress on children and seems disruptive to the parent-child bond.

How Can I Avoid Negatively Impacting My Divorce Proceedings During Our Separation?

When getting divorced in South Carolina, it is in your best interest to negotiate when your spouse has nothing to hang over your head. This means something different for everyone.

Because there is no such thing as “legal separation” in South Carolina, your options may seem limited. However, there is something called an “Order of Separate Maintenance” that should be considered carefully.

An Order of Separate Maintenance and Support South Carolina will include decisions surrounding points of contention between you and your spouse, including:

If you do not have an agreement in place, dating before your divorce can impact how the court reviews these important factors later. At the David W. Martin Law Group, our experienced family law attorneys in South Carolina strongly recommend getting temporary orders in place before making any further life decisions — including those to date other people.

Call 803-548-2468 or contact us online to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your unique case by partnering with our dedicated South Carolina divorce attorneys today.

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