Couples must be separated for an entire year before they can get divorced in North Carolina. As anyone who has gotten divorced in this state can attest, a year feels like a very long time. During that time, life moves forward and it is natural to want to start dating again. However, this leads to some very common questions: are people allowed to date while awaiting their divorce? Will this have a negative impact on what I’m seeking out of my divorce?
These are good questions. Unfortunately, the answer is a little more complex than a “yes” or “no”. While it is generally true that there is nothing to stop you from dating someone new, there are some factors to consider in taking a cautious approach to re-entering the dating world.
Are You Actually Separated?
To obtain an absolute divorce in North Carolina, you must live “separate and apart” from your spouse for a full, uninterrupted year starting on the date of your separation. Your date of separation is critical to a question of whether it is ok to date again; specifically because dating prior to the date of your separation, or ON the date of your separation, is considered adultery.
Adultery is a giant no when it comes to divorce in North Carolina. In fact, the North Carolina alimony statutes state that “If the court finds that the dependent spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior” “during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, the court shall not award alimony.” In plain English, if a court finds that you committed adultery before the date of your separation, or your adultery actually resulted in the separation, then you are barred from receiving alimony. For many dependent spouses, alimony is essential to establishing financial stability following the end of a marriage. To reiterate, it is not okay to date prior to or on your date of separation.
This also means you should exercise restraint if you are considering dating someone who your ex has accused or suspected that you cheated with. Doing so will simply reinforce their suspicions and provide a basis to argue that you committed adultery, and have continued in that relationship. If you have doubts or questions, it is always best practice to consult with your attorney.
New Direction Family Law
If you are considering a separation and divorce, contact New Direction Family Law for guidance. We know that this is an incredibly challenging and confusing time for you and want to give you the confidence to make well-informed decisions. Our attorneys are intelligent, professional, and will treat you with great care. Your future is important to us. We serve Wake, Johnston, Durham and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or reach us online through our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law