Adultery in Alimony Cases
Adultery in alimony cases can significantly impact court decisions, as it is often considered when evaluating the financial aspects and needs of the spouse seeking support. A betrayal of trust, adultery often leaves a couple unable to go on. You may be wondering if your infidelity will impact your divorce if you and your husband are headed for divorce as a result of an extramarital affair. Although you cannot sue for divorce in North Carolina on the grounds of adultery, it may nonetheless have an impact
It’s natural to desire to punish a spouse who has cheated on you. Although the divorce process cannot be used as a form of punishment by North Carolina courts, the infidelity of your husband may have an effect on your case.
Is Adultery a Ground for North Carolina Divorce?
In the past, you had to provide evidence of your spouse’s misbehavior if you wanted a divorce. And the most common misbehavior that could serve as a “ground” (legal justification) for divorce was typically adultery.
Due to your spouse’s infidelity, you may still be able to file for divorce in several states. However, North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state, so no. In order to file for divorce in the state, you and your spouse need to have lived apart from one another for a minimum of a year, and one of you needs to have been a resident of North Carolina for at least six months. (Alternatively, you could file for divorce on the grounds of “incurable insanity,” although that would necessitate much more time apart.) (2022) N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 50-5.1, 50-6
Of course, one of the most frequent causes of divorce in relationships is adultery. And infidelity can undoubtedly play a major role in causing your marriage to permanently fail, unless you and your partner are able to overcome the emotional fallout from an extramarital affair (or you had an open marriage to begin with). However, in North Carolina, it isn’t a valid justification for divorce.
The Law in North Carolina Regarding Alimony Awards in Adultery Cases
Certain states permit judges to take into account factors such as the length of the marriage, the age and health of the spouses, and marital wrongdoing, including infidelity, when determining whether to grant alimony in a divorce.
The alimony laws in North Carolina go even beyond. The judge is required to investigate allegations of adultery made by either spouse when the spouse has demanded alimony and the marriage has not been able to come to an agreement on that matter. This is due to the fact that state law forbids paying alimony to a spouse who had an affair or other “illicit sexual behavior” during their marriage but before they split. Additionally, it mandates that if the other spouse committed adultery prior to separation, the judge must provide alimony to the dependent spouse.
This regulation is subject to the following two exceptions:
1. If one spouse supported the other’s actions by staying together after discovering the affair was real, the judge will not take that into account.
2. If adultery was committed by both spouses, the judge will consider all the facts before determining whether or not to grant alimony
(N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 50-16.1A(3), 50-16.3A(a) (2022).)
North Carolina’s stance on adultery may appear counterintuitive at first glance: Although the law forbids using adultery as a grounds for divorce, it permits it to be taken into consideration when determining alimony payments. Why not just permit it for both, or forbid it?
Perhaps there is a method to this craziness. Even though the legislature of North Carolina knows that divorces based on fault typically result in drawn-out, contentious divorces that place a heavy emotional weight on the entire family and add to the workload of the courts, they nevertheless penalize infidelity in alimony determinations.
Since the case is no longer predicated on misconduct, there is less chance of such outcome if culpability is accepted for the narrower goal of alimony awards. However, because adultery is a major factor in alimony determinations, any time there is a claim of adultery along with a request for alimony in a divorce in North Carolina, there is likely to be a contentious legal battle over whether the adultery actually occurred and whether the other spouse approved of it or engaged in similar behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions About Adultery In Alimony Cases
1. Does adultery affect alimony?
Adultery can influence alimony decisions, as it may be considered when determining spousal support. However, the impact depends on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case.
2. How does adultery impact alimony calculations?
Courts may take adultery into account when deciding the amount and duration of alimony. It can be a factor that affects the “need” and “ability to pay” aspects of alimony determinations.
3. Is evidence of adultery necessary?
In some jurisdictions, evidence of adultery may be required to prove its occurrence. This evidence could include witness testimonies, photographs, or other documentation.
4. Can the adulterous spouse be denied alimony?
Adultery alone may not automatically disqualify someone from receiving alimony. Courts generally consider various factors, and the impact of adultery on financial needs and contributions to the marriage.
5. Does the innocent spouse always receive more alimony?
While adultery may be considered, courts aim to make fair decisions based on multiple factors. The innocent spouse’s financial needs and the guilty spouse’s ability to pay are crucial considerations.
6. Can a prenuptial agreement override adultery considerations?
Prenuptial agreements can have clauses addressing adultery and its impact on alimony. If such a clause exists and is legally valid, it could influence the court’s decision.
7. Can adultery affect child custody decisions?
Adultery may be a factor in child custody cases if it directly impacts the well-being of the children. However, the primary focus in custody decisions is generally the best interests of the children.
8. How can one prove adultery in court?
Proof of adultery varies but may include eyewitness accounts, communications, or financial transactions. Consult with a legal professional to understand the specific evidence required in your jurisdiction.