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The Nikki Haley Scandal, from a Divorce Lawyer’s Perspective

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Jun 02, 2010 | 0 Comments

I thought it might be interesting to give a Family Court lawyer's perspective on the allegations that gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has engaged in extramarital affairs.  Over the last two weeks, two different men have come forward to confess their involvement with Mrs. Haley, and who knows what additional allegations are yet to come.

First, political blogger Will Folks disclosed two weeks ago that he had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Mrs. Haley in 2007.  To date, Mr. Folks has released phone records and text messages to support his claim, though there may be additional evidence yet to be disclosed.  Yesterday, political consultant Larry Marchant disclosed that he had a “one night affair” with Mrs. Haley in 2008, but he acknowledged that he has no proof other than his word.  Ms. Haley has categorically denied being unfaithful to her husband of 13 years.

As I've previously explained, in order to obtain a divorce in South Carolina on the ground of adultery, you must prove that your spouse (1) has romantic inclination toward someone else and (2) had opportunity to have engaged in sexual relations with that person.  Many times, that proof comes through surveillance conducted by a private investigator, but the testimony from the paramour will typically be sufficient as well.

Applying the law to the allegations made against Ms. Haley, it seems very likely that the Family Court in South Carolina would find that she has, in fact, committed adultery, based on the admissions by Mr. Folks and Mr. Marchant that outline the date, location, etc. that the sexual activity took place.  However, it should be noted that there is not any indication at this time that Ms. Haley's husband will actually file for divorce at this time.

Of course, this is just the latest in the recent string of marital indiscretions involving South Carolina politicians.  The affair of our current Governor, Mark Sanford, with his Argentinian “soul mate” was discussed here last year, and the very public divorce of our former Lieutenant Governor, Bob Peeler was discussed here several years ago.  Gov. Sanford's ex-wife hadendorsed Mrs. Haley, and Gov. Sanford said that he doesn't believe the allegations against her.

Perhaps James L Petigru was correct after all when he said “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum!”

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J. Benjamin Stevens

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