Separated- can I get in a new relationship?

My husband and I have been separated since May. We have no separation agreement in writing, but my understanding is that it is not necessary (we have no children and no property together). Up to this point, I have not bothered with wondering about starting a new relationship, but I am now at the point where I am curious. Is it against the law for me to start a new relationship and/or be sexually involved with someone new? And if it is against the law, what is the punishment? I wanted to ask before I do either of these things…just to be clear, I have not done either at this point. Thanks so much for your help.


It isn’t against the law to date after separation and prior to divorce finalization, however, it is still technically considered adultery if you were to have a sexual relationship with another person prior to the divorce being finalized. Adultery is rarely prosecuted in this state. Unfortunately, though, if you have a sexual relationship with another prior to the date of divorce it can open up a can of worms for that person due to the potential for accusations of alienation of affection and criminal conversation (AA & CC).

While your paramour may not be guilty, these lawsuits are often used as leverage in divorce negotiations and can be used vindictively against your intended to harrass him/her in a way that could cost a fair amount of money simply defending false allegations. I know, it happened to me. (Dated my hubby after separation but prior to the divorce being finalized. She still tries to use this against us in court years later.) So, what I would suggest is that, yes, you may be able to date, but do not sleep over at each other’s houses, do not cohabitate until the judge signs the final order. If you do choose to get involved with someone, make sure that they know the potential liabilities for themselves and you.

Athos is correct. Adultery is technically a crime in NC, but it is virtually never prosecuted. Your main concern with alimony would be potential claims alienation of affection and criminal conversation. Also, if you are the dependent spouse, alimony will be barred if you are having an affair. Technically, sleeping with someone during marital separation is adultery. It is better if you don’t date at all, or date casually without sleeping together, during separation.