No, you cannot. Many people believe that once they have separated from their spouse, they are legally free to pursue other relationships. This is not true. There is no “legal separation” when it comes to divorce proceedings in the state of Mississippi. You are married until you are divorced. Dating while legally married is the definition of adultery, which can affect how the court handles alimony and child custody.
Grounds for Divorce
“Fault grounds” are a list of 12 grounds for divorce allowed by Mississippi state law. They include things like desertion, excessive drug use or drunkenness, and habitual cruel and inhumane treatment. A no-fault divorce is when neither partner sues for one of these faults, and instead, they’ve both decided to end things amicably. During the divorce proceedings, a spouse can still use fault grounds (such as adultery) to prove why they are entitled to alimony, child support, and/or child custody.
It Makes Things Messy
Divorce is a difficult and uneasy time, and it could be challenging to prove that you have a stable home for your child if you are living with a new person that your spouse does not know. Furthermore, if your spouse is aware of expensive dates you are going on, it can make it harder to prove that you cannot make a payment or live up to an agreement. It is best not to upset your spouse by dating during this transitional period. Any flair-up of emotions can cause a breakdown in communication, a blowup of negotiations, or revocation of the agreement.
How Adultery Affects Alimony and Child Custody
Any spousal misconduct (like the 12 fault grounds for divorce) can affect how a judge awards alimony. Alimony is not supposed to be a punishment for bad behavior; it is intended to be a protection from impoverishment awarded to either spouse. That said, much is left up to the judge’s discretion when it comes to spousal support, and adultery is one of the factors he will look at when making his decision.
Adultery is also a factor in child custody cases. Adultery does not automatically disqualify a parent from the custody of their child, but the parent’s “moral fitness” is often taken into account. Any of the fault grounds for divorce do not look good in the light of moral fitness, and all decisions a judge makes in a child custody case will be for the best interest of the child, not the parent.
If you are going through a divorce and have more questions, give the Law Offices of Rusty Willard a call today at (601) 824-9797. Let us help you make the right decisions.