When it comes to affairs of the heart, one person's story can quickly become a complicated ethical and legal morass. We've all heard tales of star-crossed lovers; those who, unable to realize a life with one another, trade pining glances from afar. But the modern reality is that with the ubiquity of technology, an affair has never been easier to start – and more likely to end in serious and dire repercussions. So what are the potential legalities one should consider when having a love affair in the United States?
First of all, it's important to note that US laws de facto do not prohibit affairs per se; however, this doesn't mean that you won't encounter any legal fallout from your actions. A meticulously maintained private life may still grant you maximum protection since, like a snowflake, each affair is unique and requires a case-by-case look. While moral aspects of having an affair are subjective, regulations regarding its legality under certain circumstances are in place and should be taken seriously.
For instance, adultery is illegal in twenty states, with criminal penalties up to five years in prison or a hefty fine (that would be a rather spectacular consequence if your paramour found out!). Beyond that, some jurisdictions regard an extramarital relationship as evidence of unsuitable marital conduct when they consider the division of assets during a divorce. In these cases, not only the partner who initiated the infidelity but also the person with whom they were involved could be held liable, even facing up to two third of the assets in terms of alimony.
Furthermore, laws may vary significantly from state to state. While for example Alabama permanently blocks any rights of remarriage to an adulterous mate, New York treats this offence as more of a "no harm, no foul" deal. There is no simple answer here. Moreover, from the wealth of seemingly innocuous details that your affair may invoke – such as where you had dinner with your special someone – unethical practices may emerge. Thus, taking utmost care when nursing a forbidden flame is essential to protect yourself from any potential liability.
Legalities aside, there is no denying that starting and keeping an affair puts a hefty burden on your conscience – as well as on your financial pockets. While private matters should stay that way, family counseling is often the only method to resolve such struggles and might prove preventive against unexpected costs down the line. On the same token, if you are considering embarking on an affair, take the long-term consequences into the equation before engaging in any intimate activities.
If you find yourself part of a love affair in the United States, previous research into legal minutiae is paramount to reduce chances of exposure or any resulting litigation. No matter the context of such a delicate situation, you make sure that your privacy remains intact. Most importantly, though, listen to your heart and soul – and seek professional help if needed – as disastrous events may arise for both you and your beloved.