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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    The Legalities of Love

    It can feel empowering to start a new relationship; one that feeds your soul and warms your heart. But sometimes, we forget that in the midst of our human emotions live the laws of society, who may not always be so welcoming. When it comes to deciding if your love affair is legal or not, it can be tricky navigating the complicated laws that dictate society--and thus, our lives.

    If you are currently considering getting involved in a romantic relationship, this guide can help. We cover the legality of romance in marriage, divorce, and other significant relationships, as well as where age and consent play into the equation. Keep reading for more information about all of these matters, as well as some helpful tips for keeping yourself safe and happy in love.

    Married and Living in the US

    Many people consider the US to be the ultimate land of opportunity, and it truly is. But one area where America does not offer much room for negotiation is adultery--or cheating on an existing spouse. In most states, adultery is a Class B misdemeanor and can carry penalties such as jail time or hefty fines.

    In fact, some states treat adultery as a felony. Nor does it matter whether the affair was physical or emotional; if you commit adultery while you're married, you open yourself up to criminal prosecution. Other states don't have a clear-cut law on the books but could still charge you with fraud or a related crime.

    Bottom line, discretion and extreme caution should be exercised when considering entering into a romantic relationship if you are still legally married.

    Divorce and the Your Options in the US

    Divorce is common in the United States, with nearly half of all marriages ending in dissolution. Once the formal process has begun, it's typically considered legal in the eyes of the law to begin dating someone new.

    It's important to note, however, that the courts will generally frown upon blatant infidelity during the process. Some states impose mandatory waiting periods before granting a divorce and often ask couples to explain their reasons for doing so. Spousal abuse, conflicts over money and children, mental cruelty, adultery are all acceptable causes.

    Also keep in mind that living with someone else while in the midst of a divorce can also impact custody battles and alimony payments down the line. Even if they were not a cause of the divorce, multiple states require the court to factor in marital misconduct or desertion by either party.

    Age Limits & Consent

    The US also employs strict age limits to regulate sexual activity. It is illegal to engage sexually with minors, and this law applies even if there is mutual consent. Depending on the circumstances, statutory rape laws are taken very seriously and can bring about serious repercussions. Those who break these laws can be punishable with up to life imprisonment in some states.

    In addition, those engaging in relationships with minors should consider the implications of such behavior. Besides legal action, there can be unintended psychological and emotional damage done to both parties.

    When it comes to the law, it pays to stay informed. Investing in knowledge can keep you safe and prevent you from inadvertently landing yourself in hot legal water in the near future.

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