You might view filing for a divorce as the first step toward what you hope will be a happier life without your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. While your new lifestyle is likely to include dating other people, you should consider waiting a while before you place that profile on Match.com or start patrolling the singles bars.
In South Carolina, you’re still married until the court issues the divorce decree — there’s no such thing as a “legal separation” in the Palmetto State. Under South Carolina law, dating while getting a divorce is akin to committing adultery. Consequently, dating before the finalization of your divorce can negatively impact your divorce proceedings, your ability to receive alimony and even your child custody arrangements.
Altering the Nature of the Divorce Proceedings
Dating while getting a divorce can establish the legal grounds for your ex to pursue a “fault” divorce. Essentially, this means the court can determine you are responsible for causing the marriage to fail. You’ll likely have a much harder time reaching a fair and amicable settlement with your ex-spouse than you would during a no-fault proceeding.
No Alimony Payments
If your ex makes more money than you do, you could be eligible for alimony in the wake of your divorce. Also known as spousal support, alimony is the amount of money one spouse must pay to the other to enable the latter to maintain his or her current lifestyle. Under South Carolina law, if the court discovers that you were dating while getting a divorce, it can bar you from receiving alimony, which could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars.
Limited Child Custody Rights
When determining child custody arrangements, the judge will carefully scrutinize your and your ex’s current lifestyles. If you’re dating while getting a divorce or if a new partner is living with you, the court may determine you are creating an unstable environment for your children. Thus, your ex will have a stronger claim to custodial rights, which means you could be spending less time with your kids than you’d like.
Impact on the Division of Property
In a no-fault divorce, the court will divide marital property in a “fair and equitable” manner. Because dating while getting a divorce can result in “fault” proceedings, the judge will likely reduce your share of the assets and increase your debt obligation.
The Best Option: Wait to Date
Even if the court issues an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support to resolve issues such as child custody, alimony and property division before your divorce is final, it’s still not a good idea to date during your divorce. The judge could view your dating as a change in circumstances that will alter the agreement. Waiting until the resolution of your divorce to start dating is still the safest course of action.
Contact the Family Law Experts at Lauren Taylor Law
If you’re considering a divorce or your spouse has initiated divorce proceedings in the Greenville, South Carolina, area, Lauren Taylor Law can provide the expert legal representation you deserve. Contact us to learn more today.
South Carolina divorce attorney Lauren Taylor is an authority on family law in Charleston and Greenville. Lauren Taylor Law is an authority on divorce, child support, and alimony in South Carolina. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for several years now. Lauren Taylor relies on her experience and passion to fight for you during this stressful time. Learn more about her experience here.