Can I date during my separation?

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While there is nothing illegal or wrong about dating once you are formally separated from your spouse, there are several problems that may arise and you should take precautions before dating during your separation.  

You must be separated from your spouse before you start dating. North Carolina law does not require that you file anything to be legally separated. The date of separation occurs when both spouses live under separate roofs and at least one spouse has the intent to end the marriage.  Please note that you are not separated if you sleep in separate bedrooms or even if one person sleeps in the basement or other separate part of the house. You must be physically under different roofs. While the intent is created by simply one person wanting the divorce to occur, be sure it is understood that you are living apart because you want to get a divorce.

If your situation involves any divorce issues that might potentially include allegations of adultery or other forms of marital misconduct, it is best not to date at all during your separation.  North Carolina allows actions for alienation of affection and criminal conversation.  If you start dating before you are separated it is called adultery.  Adultery will affect your claim for post-separation support and can have a devastating impact on alimony.  A judge could look at the behavior as indicating that an affair actually occurred before the date of separation.  Also, a new relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend can impact your custody case. It is best to avoid this type of messy conflict if at all possible.  

Even after considering all the factors above, if you still want to date during your separation before your divorce is finalized, you may ask your lawyer to draft a post-separation agreement outlining the terms of support and include provisions that permit dating without the fear of loss of support or legal action.

If you are facing a separation, please contact us for a consultation.

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