Forgiving Adultery, And What That May Mean For Your Divorce Case

Adultery is a ground for divorce in South Carolina. It also has serious consequences for the issue of alimony and property division. Some spouses forgive their partners’ infidelity. However, they may not realize what sort of impact forgiveness, or condonation, may have on a subsequent divorce. If your spouse has committed adultery, you should know your legal rights. An experienced Greenville, SC family law attorney can assist you.

There are two kinds of divorce in South Carolina: no-fault and fault. No-fault divorces are common and require the parties to live separate and apart for one year. Fault-based divorces can be granted for several reasons, including on the basis of adultery. These divorces do not require physical separation, which means they may be granted more quickly.

Adultery will absolutely bar alimony to the cheating spouse in Greenville, SC. And it doesn’t matter what sort of income or earning power disparity there is between the spouses. Even if the cheating spouse hasn’t worked since marriage and the non-cheating spouse is a millionaire, there’s no alimony.  Adultery can also affect property division. If the judge believes adultery contributed to the marital breakdown, they could award more assets to the non-cheating spouse.

A man holding his male friend, girl friend hand.

Forgiving the adultery, however, can alter these rules. In South Carolina, this forgiveness is known as condonation. Condonation is a defense to an allegation of adultery in a fault-based divorce. This means it could impact the time it takes to obtain that divorce. More significantly, it may also affect the issues of alimony and property division.

To assert condonation as a defense, there are a few things the courts require in Greenville, SC. The person alleging condonation must specifically allege the adultery was known by the non-cheating spouse. They must further state the action was condoned, forgiven, and the parties thereafter resumed marital relations.

Forgiveness may be express or implied. The way that it is normally demonstrated is by showing continued cohabitation in the marital home. If the non-cheating spouse knows about the affair and doesn’t file for divorce, the cheating spouse could argue condonation. One issue that may be relevant is how long the spouses lived together after the cheating spouse disclosed the affair. If the spouses continued cohabitation for an extended period of time, it could evidence forgiveness. Ask a Greenville, SC divorce attorney if you have questions about whether you or the other spouse, condoned an affair.

Condonation, if proven, may eliminate the fault-based divorce (unless other faults are separately proven). This means it could force the parties to separate and wait the required one year before filing a no-fault divorce. For most spouses, this is stressful enough. But the impact on alimony and property division could be more expensive.

If the judge believes you condoned the affair, you may have to pay alimony. You may also not get as favorable an equitable division of marital assets. Depending on your case, this could cost you significantly more than had you not forgiven the affair. That’s why you need the experience of a skilled Greenville, SC divorce lawyer.


An affair, and condonation of it, will affect your divorce case regardless of what side you’re on. The cheating and non-cheating spouse have different interests when it comes to divorce. Either way, our dedicated family law practice can help. We will defend your rights and advise you as to how the affair may affect the outcome of your case. Let Greenville Family Law help with your divorce. Give us a call today.

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