Does Adultery Affect Alimony in a South Carolina Divorce?

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In some states, evidence of adultery is irrelevant as far as divorce proceedings are concerned, and a divorce judge will take any such evidence into consideration. In the state of South Carolina, however, adultery during marriage can have a direct impact on any alimony that is awarded in a divorce. In fact, South Carolina law even recognizes adultery as one of the fault-based reasons to be granted a divorce.

Defining Adultery Under South Carolina Law

Under South Carolina law, “adultery” refers to sexual intercourse between a married person and another individual who is not his or her spouse. One party to a divorce can use evidence of adultery in divorce proceedings unless he or she also committed adultery or if he or she agreed to and/or condoned the cheating spouse’s behavior. More specifically, if your spouse knew that you were having an affair and chose to allow you to continue the affair, he or she cannot use evidence of adultery against you in your divorce, at least for the purposes of an alimony request. This may be the case even if the adultery is committed after the parties have separated and filed for divorce. So long as the adultery occurs prior to the formal signing of the parties’ written marital or property settlement agreement, or prior to the court’s entry of a formal order of support or approval of the settlement agreement, whichever occurs earlier, a divorce judge will consider evidence of adultery in making decisions about your divorce.

Adultery Can Bar Alimony in Divorce Cases

In any divorce case involving alimony, evidence of adultery is pertinent. This means that the divorce judge can and will consider adultery as evidence in your divorce. Pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-130, if the court finds that one spouse committed adultery during the marriage, then that spouse is not entitled to receive alimony under South Carolina law. This is the case no matter what the parties’ respective financial circumstances may be, or how appropriate an alimony award would be absent evidence of a spouse’s adultery. In comparison to most other states, South Carolina law is very strict when it comes to adultery and alimony in a divorce setting.

Proving Adultery in Your Divorce Case

In order to raise adultery as an issue in your divorce, you do not have to provide direct evidence that the adultery occurred. That is, you don’t need to get your spouse to admit that he or she committed adultery during your marriage, or force your ex’s new significant other to testify about their sexual relations. You can provide circumstantial evidence that your spouse committed adultery during your marriage. Examples of circumstantial evidence of adultery may include your own testimony about how you discovered your spouse’s affair or credit card statements showing expenses related to your spouse’s affair, such as charges for hotel rooms, restaurants, and gifts.

Contact Your Greenville Divorce Attorney for Advice

Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, represents clients in all types of divorce and family law matters in Greenville, Spartanburg, Oconee, Anderson, and Pickens. We have the experience and knowledge to handle your divorce, no matter what issues are involved or how complex those issues may be. Contact our office today at (864) 214-3621 to schedule a consultation with one of our South Carolina divorce lawyers, and learn how we can assist you with your case.

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