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Would it be considered adultery if I date while we’re separated?

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 28, 2023)

Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:16 pm

Separation can be a difficult and lonely state. You’re not yet divorced, but you are likely living your life entirely on your own for the first time in years. It’s only natural that those who are moving towards the end of a marriage might decide it’s time to start dating during this period. Unfortunately, though, that’s an action that can bring with it serious long-term consequences. Before you decide to start dating while separated, you might want to consider whether the action will be considered adulterous.

Deciding on Definitions

One of the hardest things about this particular discussion is using the word adultery. It’s certainly a very charged term, one that has significant moral implications. When talking about adultery in terms of divorce, though, it’s important to stop and look at things from a strictly legal standpoint. The law tends to have its own definitions for most things and they’re often a bit different from what one would expect in one’s regular life.

Under the law, the definition of adultery as it pertains to divorce is a physical sexual act between one of the spouses and another party. Issues like separation aren’t really taken into account under the legal definition. So long as there is any kind of sexual contact between one of the two parties of a divorce and another person, adultery has been committed.

Does this mean that you are committing adultery in any other sense? Maybe not. That’s up to you and your own moral compass. It’s important, though, that you understand what the law has to say about your situation. Morality doesn’t always have a huge role to play in the world of the law.

Dating While Separated

There’s a definitive answer to having sexual contact with another person while going through a separation. What’s a little harder to understand, though, is whether dating at all can be considered adultery in the context of divorce. In most cases, it’s hard to come up with a definitive answer. It really depends upon what is happening during the dates, the state in which the parties live, and the amount of evidence that can be gathered.

In some states, having completely chaste dates wouldn’t count as adultery. Because of the necessity of sexual contact in the definition of adultery, those who aren’t engaging in physical contact can’t be committing adultery. This is still a grey area, though, as something as small as a kiss might be seen as adulterous.

On the other hand, some states view dating while separated as a form of marital misconduct. While not quite as bad as adultery in the eyes of the court, it can still be problematic for those who go through a divorce. In those cases, the mere act of dating another person can be used against one of the parties during a divorce. As such, it might be better to avoid dating altogether.

Creating a Cause

Why does any of this matter? In some states, it truly doesn’t. What one needs to be careful of, though, is the fact that adultery is one of the elements that can show that a party is at fault for a divorce. In states that still require fault for divorce, this is perhaps the quickest way to show that the marriage needs to be dissolved.

If you are separated and still want to work on your marriage, going on a date might be the fastest way to give your partner a way out of the relationship. It can also wreak havoc on things like pre-nuptial agreements, especially when there are clauses about fidelity at play. It’s always going to be the legal definition that is most important in these cases, so understanding what the law has to say is far more important than any emotional connections that may or may not have been made.

Is it considered adultery for one party to date during a separation? In the strictest sense of the word, the court would look on the act as adulterous. This may not be the case according to one’s morals or one’s agreement with one’s spouse, but it is something about which both parties should be informed. If you are afraid that your spouse will use your dating of another person as a cause for fault in a divorce, it may be best to wait until the proceedings are finished. While it may not be fair to you, it’s perhaps the best way to act in accordance with the laws of your state.

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