Any Greenville, SC divorce attorney has seen the effect of infidelity on a divorce settlement. When adultery is proven, it can affect the justifications for divorce, claims, and calculation of alimony, child custody, child visitation, division of marital property, and even attorney’s fees. It is essential to understand how the court recognizes adultery and how it can have an influence on your divorce settlement.
Definition of Adultery According to South Carolina’s Court System
The laws in South Carolina define adultery as sexual intercourse between a married person and an individual who is not that person’s spouse. South Carolina has a provision called fault-based divorce. Infidelity is one of the grounds for these types of divorce settlements.
A divorce can be granted in as little as 90 days if you can prove adultery on the part of your spouse. That period is very uncommon since most divorces have a variety of other issues that need to be settled as well. All matters regarding the divorce must be resolved for a divorce to be granted and finalized.
Adultery and Alimony Eligibility in South Carolina
If you or your spouse are proven to have committed adultery in South Carolina, the adulterous party is barred from receiving alimony. There are four exceptions to this rule:
- The parties in question have already signed a marital settlement agreement.
- The parties have already signed a property agreement.
- The court has issued a permanent order of separate support and maintenance.
- The court has approved property or marital settlement agreement between the divorcing parties.
This is why clients are always advised not to start any type of romantic relationship until the divorce or settlement agreements have been signed. In South Carolina, you need to be cautious with even your new friendships, as these can be misconstrued and used against you in court.
For example, if a couple is separated and in the process of a divorce and one party begins a relationship with someone new, that individual could potentially bar themselves from ever being able to petition for alimony. Even if this relationship is just a friendship, it could work against that person in court.
A reasonable Greenville, SC family law attorney can help to advise you in this delicate area. If you are looking to receive alimony after your divorce, it is vital to make sure that you do not put yourself in a compromising position.
It can be challenging to get proof of adultery to be used in court. Often, one spouse has been successfully hiding their affair from their partner. In South Carolina, circumstantial evidence is allowed to be used when attempting to prove adultery. Some examples of evidence include:
- Phone records
- Text messages
- Social media direct messages
- Testimony from the other spouse
- Testimony from other individuals who know about the affair
You must be able to prove motive and opportunity for the evidence to be considered valid. The evidence must show that the cheating spouse intended to commit adultery and had the chance to make the affair happen.
Any evidence that you plan to use in your adultery case must be obtained legally. Illegally obtained evidence will not be allowed into your case, even if it proves that the other person committed adultery.
Adultery and the Impact on the Divorcing Parties
In most cases, divorcing parties are required to an equitable division of all the marital assets and incurred debt. If you can prove “marital misconduct or fault” on the part of your spouse, the court can reduce the cheating party’s share of the marital assets.
The court will look to see if the affair has hurt the economic circumstances of the marriage. This could be relevant if the cheating spouse used marital assets to pay for gifts, trips, or other expenses for the person with whom they were having an affair. The court may increase the amount of alimony awarded as a result of the affair.
Child custody is not affected by adultery in South Carolina. However, it could be a factor if a judge needs to decide between two equally qualified parents.
Each case is unique, as are the circumstances surrounding them. Adultery can have a significant impact on a divorce settlement, or it can be very minimal. You need a qualified attorney on your side to help you with every step of the divorce process.
Give Angela Frazier a call for your case evaluation and consultation.