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How could adultery affect your North Carolina divorce?

| Dec 31, 2020 | Divorce |

If your spouse confessed that they cheated on you, or if you discovered their actions on your own, you likely feel gutted. While many couples affected by adultery choose to repair their marriages, you may see no path forward for remaining in yours. If you plan on filing for divorce, you may wonder whether your spouse’s actions could affect the outcome of your case. Not only could their conduct impact your settlement, you may be able to pursue damages against their partner.

North Carolina’s approach to adultery

You cannot file for divorce on the grounds of adultery in North Carolina. Yet, your spouse’s conduct could affect the amount of alimony – if they are eligible – and marital property they receive, as well as their share of child custody if you two have children. Whether these things happen, though, depends on how your spouse’s adultery affected you, your children and your marital property.

One of the factors North Carolina courts will consider when awarding alimony is marital misconduct. It is unlikely your spouse’s adultery will completely bar them from receiving alimony. Yet, the court may use its discretion to adjust the value of their award. Your spouse’s adultery will have no effects on their alimony award, though, if you forgave them for it or condoned it. Nor will it have effects on their award if you both committed adultery during your marriage.

It is unlikely that your spouse’s adultery will impact the amount of marital property the court awards them in your divorce. Yet, if they wasted marital assets on their affair, they may receive a lesser share of them than they otherwise would. It is even less likely that your spouse’s adultery will affect the share of child custody they receive. For this to happen, their actions must have put your children directly at risk.

Alienation of affection and criminal conversation

In North Carolina, you can file a civil lawsuit against your spouse’s partner for alienation of affection. By filing this lawsuit, you can pursue damages against them for their role in ending your marriage. In doing so, though, you must prove:

  • Love and affection existed between you and your spouse during your marriage
  • The love and affection between you and your spouse were destroyed
  • The actions of your spouse’s partner caused the loss of love and affection in your marriage

You also have the option of filing a criminal conversation lawsuit against your spouse’s partner. A criminal conversation lawsuit, though, requires you to prove that your spouse engaged in at least one act of intercourse with their partner. An alienation of affection lawsuit does not.

No matter how much your spouse’s adultery hurt you, you have options for holding them accountable for their actions during your divorce. A family law attorney can help you understand how your spouse’s conduct could affect the outcome of your case.