South Carolina recognizes both no-fault and at-fault divorce cases. When one party is at fault for the divorce, this determination can impact property division and alimony.

Grounds for an at-fault divorce in the state include desertion, physical abuse, substance abuse and adultery. However, the spouse who is claiming adultery must provide proof in court before a judge will grant an at-fault divorce.

What constitutes adultery?

South Carolina defines adultery as sexual intercourse with a person other than one’s spouse. Even when spouses have separated and a divorce is in process, one partner can seek an at-fault divorce if the other partner has sex with someone else during this limbo period.

What happens when one party provides evidence of adultery?

If a person has committed adultery, he or she is not eligible to receive spousal support payments (alimony), even when a judge would have otherwise awarded alimony. The presence of adultery alone is usually not sufficient to impact the division of property. However, if the parties have already signed a marital settlement agreement that includes spousal support, a subsequent claim of adultery will not overturn this contract.

If the court finds that one spouse spent significant marital resources during the course of an affair, the other spouse may receive reimbursement for these costs during the property division process. As with spousal support, however, a judge will not overturn a signed property division agreement after subsequent proof of adultery.

Regardless of the circumstances of cheating, it will not be factored into child custody or visitation decisions. Proof of adultery can expedite divorce proceedings. South Carolina courts may finalize a divorce within 90 days when one party is at fault.

Other factors may affect the outcome of the divorce as well, so it is important to keep the big picture in mind when discussing a divorce settlement.