couple getting a divorce

What If My Spouse Had An Affair?

One of the most common causes of divorce is infidelity. In fact, one study showed that in almost half of all marriages, one or both spouses admitted to having at least one affair. If adultery is a factor in your divorce, it is important that you understand how it may affect the terms of your divorce—including spousal support.

In South Carolina, the law considers adultery (defined as sexual contact between a married individual and anyone who is not their spouse) as legal grounds for a fault divorce. South Carolina courts will consider adultery when determining the distribution of assets. It is also a complete bar to alimony unless it can be proven that the adultery was condoned or consented to by the other party.

Understanding the Different Types of Alimony

Before understanding how divorce law can affect alimony, it is important to understand the different types:

  • Alimony Pendente Lite – Temporary support divorce during the course of the divorce case.
  • Periodic Alimony – Alimony paid in monthly installments until death, remarriage, or a change in circumstances.
  • Lump Sum Alimony – Alimony that is paid in one or more installments either in cash or gifts of property.​
  • Rehabilitative Alimony – Alimony is given while one spouse completes training or education in order to become self-sufficient.​
  • Reimbursement Alimony – Alimony awarded when one spouse is repaying the other for things paid for during the marriage.​
  • Separate Maintenance – Alimony awarded when two individuals are not divorced but separated.

What Factors Can Affect Alimony Payments?

When determining how much spousal support to award, the courts will take into consideration several factors such as the length of the marriage, income of the spouses, and more. One thing that will absolutely affect the awarding of alimony in South Carolina is adultery. In fact, if one spouse had an affair, they will not be eligible to receive alimony—that is unless the other spouse knew about the affair and condoned it. That makes our state one of the strictest when it comes to adultery during a marriage and our penalties for it the severest.

How Adultery Can Effect Property Division

In the state of South Carolina, there are several factors that impact the way property is divided following a divorce. One of these factors is marital misconduct. Whether or not this factor is utilized in the terms of the divorce, it can affect asset division if the affair contributed to certain economic circumstances. The estate of the marriage may be leaned in favor of one spouse if the court deems it to be necessary.

Adultery & Child Custody/Visitation

If one spouse has an affair, it does not mean they will have their custody or visitation rights revoked. Remember, all courts function on what will be in the best interests of the child. Still, if a custody battle is wire-to-wire, a judge may lean in favor of the parent who did not commit adultery, as their morality may be in question. 

If you have questions about how else an affair may impact your divorce case, we encourage you to contact our Charleston divorce law firm as soon as possible. We offer initial consultations to discuss your case.

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