What is the law regarding dating when legally separated?

Full Question:

I am filing for my legal separation. What are the laws about dating again in South Carolina? We do have 3 children and my husband is threatening me that if I start dating while we are legally separated, he is going to fight for custody.
01/31/2007   |   Category: Divorce ยป Separation A...   |   State: South Carolina   |   #890

Answer:

In all actions for separate support and maintenance, legal separation, or
other marital litigation between the parties, allowances of alimony and suit
money and allowances of alimony and suit money pendente lite shall be
made according to the principles controlling such allowance and actions for
divorce. [Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-140]

On the issue of whether a spouse should date after separation and before
divorce, you should understand that post-separation dating can be used as
evidence of adultery occurring during the marriage. If there was no illicit
sexual conduct before your date of separation, then post-separation dating
is not relevant to a claim for post-separation support or alimony. However,
a paramour who stays overnight when your children are present can be
grounds for denial of your custody or visitation. You should be forewarned
that you will likely be asked under oath at a deposition or at trial about any
dating or romantic relationships. To answer these questions falsely would
constitute perjury. You may plead the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-
incrimination under certain limited circumstances. Dating after separation and
before divorce may also have a serious negative impact on the settlement
negotiations between you and your spouse. At best, your infidelity can
cause your spouse hurt and embarrassment. At worst, it will provoke
feelings of anger and revenge, which will greatly complicate your settlement
negotiations with your spouse.

Also, your spouse might file an action for “alienation of affections”
or “criminal conversation” seeking substantial money damages against your
paramour based upon his or her sexual intercourse with you or interference
with the marital relationship between you and your spouse either before or
after the date of separation and before a divorce is final. Conversely, if you
spouse is engaging in extra-marital affairs, then you are the wronged spouse
and are in the position of filing an alienation of affections or criminal
conversation lawsuit against your spouse’s paramour. If that is the case,
you are well-advised to obtain proof of his or her affair through a private
detective.

South Carolina courts will decide the issue of custody based upon the best
interests of the child. In determining the best interest of the child, the court
must consider the child's reasonable preference for custody. The court shall
place weight upon the preference based upon the child's age, experience,
maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference. Religious faith shall
also be considered in determining custody. In making a decision regarding
custody of a minor child, in addition to other existing factors specified by
law, the court must give weight to evidence of domestic violence. In any
action for divorce from the bonds of matrimony the court may at any stage
of the cause, or from time to time after final judgment, make such orders
touching the care, custody and maintenance of the children of the marriage
and what, if any, security shall be given for the same as from the
circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case and the best spiritual
as well as other interests of the children may be fit, equitable and just.

In determining the best interests of the child, the court must consider the
child's reasonable preference for custody. The court shall place weight upon
the preference based upon the child's age, experience, maturity, judgment,
and ability to express a preference. Consideration is also given to the
religious faith of the child, and the evidence of physical or sexual abuse.

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