Dating and sex after separation: What’s allowed?

Dating and intimate relationships create some questions for people who are separated but not yet legally divorced. How do you navigate such a tricky situation? From a legal standpoint, there are two things you need to consider.

First, what does “separated” mean? North Carolina requires that spouses live “separate and apart from each other” with at least one of them intending to end (terminate in legalese) the marriage. Where you live makes a difference. You have to live in a separate residence — not in separate rooms of the family house, not even in a separate apartment over the family garage — but in an entirely separate location. That’s it: [1] separate residence and [2] intention to end the marriage. You do not have to file a legal document to begin a separation, although some people prefer to do so.

Second, once you are separated, are there any restrictions on forming relationships with other people? Yes, and no. With limited exceptions, once you are separated, you are generally free to date anyone who wants to date you with one big exception. If infidelity/adultery — an intimate relationship with someone other than your spouse prior to separating — is an issue, then continuing a relationship with that same person after the separation can be used as evidence to prove adultery. Why does that matter? Proof of adultery may affect alimony and child custody. If you are in that situation, your legal situation becomes more complicated and discussing the specifics with your lawyer is important.

So, once you have established a separate residence with the intention of ending your marriage, there is no need to wait until the Court has granted you an Absolute Divorce to go out on the town with someone new.

If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney to help guide you through the often confusing and difficult process. We can help with that.

Please contact our Family Law Team at Dozier Miller Law Group today.

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