In North Carolina, if you are living separate from your spouse and you have no intent to resume the marital relationship, then you wouldn’t be committing adultery by dating someone else. Your spouse can’t use your post-separation conduct as the fault basis for a claim for alimony, post separation support, criminal conversation, or alienation of affection. So the simple answer is, you can start dating someone else as soon as you’ve separated from your spouse. However, this does not mean that immediately reentering the dating pool is a good idea.
Why? First, if your spouse finds out you are dating someone new, it could negatively affect his or her willingness to settle pending claims at mediation or prior to trial. This could increase your cost and stress. Second, conduct after separation can be used as evidence to corroborate conduct prior to separation. So your spouse could try to use your new beau to prove that you were cheating during the marriage in order to bolster a claim for alimony. Finally, if your spouse believes you cheated, even if you didn’t, he or she could file a lawsuit for criminal conversation or alienation of affection. During such a lawsuit, opposing counsel could comb through your personal correspondence, pictures, laptop and phone as a part of the discovery process. Even if the suit is ultimately unsuccessful, your spouse could cause you and your new partner emotional pain, financial strain, and public embarrassment.
The bottom line: you can start dating upon separation, but you should wait until your case is over.
For more information contact our Greensboro law office.