Does Cheating Matter in a South Carolina Divorce?

Look at any list of the top reasons for divorce, and adultery is likely to be near the top of the list. Regardless of the reason a spouse has filed for divorce, a no-fault divorce can be filed as long as the spouses have lived apart for at least a year. Purportedly, this timeline exists so spouses can either work out their differences or fully decide to divorce. 

There might be a quicker way for your divorce to go through in South Carolina—in as little as 90 days, possibly. How can this happen? Through a fault-based divorce. Adultery is one way that individuals can allege fault on the part of the other spouse. However, the truncated timeline is not the only way that adultery can affect a South Carolina divorce. 

Absolute Bar to Alimony

This is the most striking way that adultery impacts a Final Order of Divorce in South Carolina is the permanent bar to alimony placed on the cheating spouse. The proof of adultery need not entail graphic evidence – merely showing the spouse had an opportunity to cheat and an inclination to do so is enough for the court. If there is a finding in family court that one spouse committed adultery during divorce, the only defense would be that the non-cheating spouse knew of the affair and approved of it. Approval can occur by being intimate with the spouse after the affair.

A spouse who commits infidelity is also subject to an absolute bar on alimony even if he or she demonstrates a need for it. So, theoretically, a stay-at-home spouse with no useful job skills married to a medical specialist who makes $250,000 per year will still not receive alimony if the specialist can provide proof of the adultery. 

Effects on Property Division

Generally, infidelity in a South Carolina marriage does not have a significant effect on disposition of property. However, the court can make adjustments in dividing up the martial estate for infidelity.  The Court also has the power to award attorney fees and private investigator fees to the spouse that incurred the expenses trying to prove the affair. 

Effects on Child Support or Custody

Infidelity during a divorce rarely does not have an effect on child support, and the “best interests of the child” standard is used to determine the custody and visitation schedules for the children in question. Put another way, a spouse’s infidelity doesn’t usually have a significant bearing on his or her parenting ability. However, it can significantly affect custody matters if the children are being exposed to the affair.   

It might surprise some people that two decades into the 21st century, adultery is still impactful in divorce proceedings. Although it does somewhat matter in other states, South Carolina is known to be relatively strict in enforcing the effects of adultery in family law matters. This is one reason divorces often become contentious and nasty in the state of South Carolina; it is also one of many reasons why you need a competent attorney to assist you during the process. Cate & Brough, P.A. would be happy to represent you in any family law matter. Give our firm a call at 864-585-4226 to discuss your options with our team today.

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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