The Legal Ramifications of Adultery

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Adultery is an incredible breach of marital trust that many marriages simply cannot survive. Beyond the massive emotional toll and the dissolution of a family that can result from adultery, there are very real legal consequences. If your spouse has engaged in this violation or if you are being accused of it, then it is worth your time to explore these legal consequences.

Alimony Accounts for Adultery

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, which means to obtain an absolute divorce, a spouse does not need to prove anything other than a year-long separation. However, when it comes to spousal support, courts are not only free to consider adultery, but a judge may be required to consider it. Under the North Carolina General Statutes, the court weighs “illicit sexual behavior” as follows:

  1. If a supporting spouse is found to have engaged in the illicit behavior, then the dependent spouse is entitled to an award of alimony;
  2. If a dependent spouse is found to have condoned the behavior, then the court cannot consider the supporting spouse’s behavior in its alimony determination; or
  3. If the dependent spouse is found to have engaged in illicit sexual behavior, then the court “shall not” award alimony to that spouse.

Divorce from Bed and Board

Another circumstance where adultery may play a role is in a “divorce from bed and board.” Contrary to how it sounds, this is not an actual divorce. It is a court ordered separation. This is usually reserved for truly contentious separations where one spouse refuses to leave the home after committing one of the statutory forms of misconduct. Specifically, one of the acts on which a court can grant a divorce from bed and board is when one spouse commits adultery. When a court grants a divorce from bed and board, the marital obligation to live together ends, and the prevailing spouse gets to remain in the home, while the other spouse loses that right.

Contact New Direction Family Law

The legal issues that come with a divorce can be highly contentious. At New Direction Family Law, we have years of experience in handling divorces of all levels of intensity. We understand what is at stake for you and take a thoughtful, methodical approach to make sure that your interests are properly protected. You deserve respectful, high quality representation, and we can help you. Our firm serves Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us at our website.