Adultery: what is the required proof and why does it matter?

Adultery:  what is the required proof and why does it matter?

By M. J. Goodwin


Adultery is perhaps the most incendiary aspect of family court litigation.  Adultery involves a painful, intimate betrayal.  It is the only ground for divorce that results in a bar to alimony.  Because of that bar, it is a game changer.  But what exactly has to be proven in order to establish adultery?

It is not required to have an actual witness to sexual activity with a third party.  If that were the standard, nobody would ever establish adultery.  What is required is proof of opportunity (to have sexual relations) and inclination (to have sexual relations) with someone other than one’s spouse.

In Skaggs v. Skaggs, Opinion No. 5229, filed August 1, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals rules that although neither party was granted a divorce on the ground of adultery, that the Wife’s conduct was proven by a clear preponderance of the evidence and consequently, she was barred from alimony.  Wife’s conduct was observed by witnesses who testified that while at a bar on her birthday, she consumed a substantial amount of alcohol and was affectionate with a man throughout the course of the evening.  The same man was observed to follow the wife home and enter her home.  Wife’s own text messages[1] were used to establish a continued disposition to commit adultery.  The Court found the evidence presented to be “sufficiently definite to identify the time and place of offense and the circumstances under which it was committed.”

Every case is different and adultery can be established in many ways.   Social media provides much fodder for Family Court litigation, as do cell phone records.  Use of a licensed private investigator is also a tried and true way to establish adultery.

If you have a Family Court situation you need help with, please contact me at or call 864-375-0909.


[1] “I’m dancing with about half a dozen and French kissing all down the floor, and they don’t kiss like small-mouth brim.  They actually know how to kiss.  LOL.  Got a couple off-duty PD officers here, too.  Gonna let me (sic) strip search my ass if they want to…I love being single and free.  Leaving for cutting horse congress, and I’m gonna have so much fun roping me a cowboy who knows what a real man is all about.”




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