How does dating affect possible child custody in North Carolina?

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Question:

How does dating affect possible child custody in North Carolina?

Answer:

The State of North Carolina has some of the most antiquated laws in the nation when it comes to divorce and child custody. They are one of the few states that still allow one party to allege adultery as grounds for divorce. The only way a couple can obtain a no-fault divorce in North Carolina is by both parties living separately for at least a year. During this separation, if either party engages in a dating relationship with another person, they risk being charged with adultery. In the eyes of the law, they are still considered legally married.

North Carolina Child Support While Separated

Can I file for child support while separated is a question that often arises when couples live apart. They can choose to enter into a Separation Agreement on their own and file a copy with the family court. If they are unable to work out an arrangement, one party may file a petition seeking a court order to obtain child support while they are separated. The judge will take into account how much each person earns, the number of children and how much time each parent is responsible for the care of the children. Child support is generally paid by the non-custodial spouse who often has the higher income. Child support payments are primarily to meet the child’s health, educational and daily needs, such as food, shelter and clothing.

Dating Before Divorce May Have Consequences

If you are seeking a no-fault divorce based upon being separated, North Carolina requires the parties to live apart for a year or more. Until a final divorce decree is obtained, both parties are still married. While adultery is considered a misdemeanor crime in North Carolina, the District Attorney rarely has time to prosecute such matters. However, having a sexual relationship with a third party while legally separated could affect:

  • The amount of custody and visitation you are granted with your children
  • How the children will be affected by your new relationship, especially if this other person frequently spends the night
  • Your ability to negotiate a settlement with your soon to be ex who may not want his or her children exposed to an unknown third party

Kids often say the most unexpected things and often blurt out what they saw while visiting Mommy or Daddy. If you are involved in a contentious divorce proceeding, your spouse could ask the judge to intervene and order that your kids aren’t exposed to this type of behavior. You could wind up losing custody altogether or risk having your visitation time decreased.

When to Hire a North Carolina Family Law Attorney

It’s not uncommon for people to be eager to get on with their lives once they realize their marriage is over. Being separated for a year and not being able to date socially may seem like an extreme hardship. For the sake of your children, try to refrain from getting seriously involved with another person until your divorce is final. If you are unsure about what to do, contact a North Carolina divorce attorney for legal guidance.

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