North Carolina is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorces, but that does not mean marital misconduct will not affect some parts of the outcome in your case. Each partner’s conduct within the vows of marriage is irrelevant for child custody, child support, property division, and most other issues. However, it does play a role in spousal support.
In North Carolina, the dependent spouse can request support, known as post-separation support and alimony, from the judge overseeing the divorce. Marital misconduct could affect whether the judge awards alimony. The marital misconduct that occurred within a marriage could affect both the amount and the duration of any support ordered by the court.
Understanding Marital Misconduct
North Carolina law defines marital misconduct under NCGS 50-16.1A. This definition includes a list of bad, hurtful, immoral, and reckless behaviors . One would normally not expect these behaviors from their spouse.
Many people tend to think about infidelity when they hear “marital misconduct.” Sexual activities outside the marriage is not the only definition, though.
Examples of Marital Misconduct in North Carolina
Some examples of marital misconduct, as explained in North Carolina law, include:
- Sexual contact with a third party outside the marriage, as defined in G.S. 14-27.20(4)
- Being arrested or convicted of a criminal offense
- Abandoning the other spouse or kicking them out of the home
- Abuse or cruel treatment that threatens the spouse’s safety
- Reckless or wasteful spending and concealing assets
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
- Actions rendering “the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome”
Many Factors Affect Spousal Support and Alimony Awards
Under N.C. General Statute § 50-16.3A, the judge handling a North Carolina divorce proceeding has a lot of discretion when awarding spousal support. First, they must determine if:
- One spouse is dependent on the other
- The other spouse is capable of supporting the dependent spouse
- Spousal support is necessary for an equitable divorce, all other factors considered
Before a judge decides to award alimony and how much, they will consider many factors that could influence their decision. This likely includes:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and well-being of each person
- The income difference between the spouses
- The earning ability of each spouse based on their education and experience
- Contributions to the marriage such as caring for the home and raising children
Marital misconduct is also one of these factors.
You Could Retain a Lawyer from Our Firm to Take on Your Marital Misconduct Case
You could be a dependent spouse that can provide evidence that misconduct was likely. This proof could:
- Improve your chances of getting alimony
- Increase the maintenance payment you receive
If you need spousal support and believe marital misconduct occurred, you may want to speak with a family law attorney who sees cases like this often. Multiple factors can influence whether a judge awards alimony. Your lawyer will know how to build a strong argument to show you need the additional monetary support.
What if the Dependent Spouse Committed Marital Misconduct?
In most cases, when a dependent spouse has an affair or otherwise engages in marital misconduct, they will not receive spousal support from North Carolina courts. There are exceptions to this, however.
Perhaps most commonly, you could still receive spousal support if you can show that your partner also engaged in misconduct. You could also qualify if your spouse condoned your behavior or there are other mitigating circumstances in your case.
Do I Need an Attorney to Prove Marital Misconduct in North Carolina?
If you want to request alimony or believe your spouse will, you should work with a divorce attorney from our firm. Our legal team can discuss your options, including the role that any marital misconduct might play.
Your attorney will likely have experience with similar cases and know the proof necessary to confirm misconduct. While this may be difficult to discuss, you will need to speak openly about your spouse’s marital misconduct and infidelity to your legal team. This will help us build a case and use these behaviors in your favor.
This is especially important for dependent spouses who need support to pay their bills. However, collecting evidence and proving marital misconduct can save the supporting spouse a lot of money in some cases. In general, to prove an affair, you will only need to show:
- The opportunity for infidelity was there
- There was a history of questionable behavior, such as flirting
Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC Today About Your North Carolina Divorce
At Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, our team may be able to help you obtain a more favorable award for spousal support in your divorce. We will also protect your best interests in child custody, child support, property division, and more.
We have offices located in Rutherfordton, Morganton, and Shelby, NC. We also serve clients from our Spartanburg, SC, location. Call (828) 286-3866 today to learn more.