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How does adultery impact a divorce?

In North Carolina, a spouse who's been cheated on can use marital misconduct as the basis for divorce. It is also one of the few states where a victim of adultery can legally sue the spouse's lover who broke up the marriage.

Marital misconduct laws in North Carolina

The judge is allowed to consider adultery as grounds for divorce as long as the couple separates for one year following an act of marital misconduct. At least one of the spouses must also live in North Carolina for the last six months before the divorce papers are filed.

The court may also consider evidence of marital misconduct when awarding alimony and child custody. If the cheating spouse affected the married couple's finances, a judge may take this into consideration when dividing assets between spouses.

How does adultery affect alimony?

Marital misconduct is one of several factors a court will consider in an alimony case. When the supporting spouse commits adultery, he or she may be forced to make a greater alimony payment to the dependent spouse. Conversely, an adulterous dependent spouse has no rights for alimony under North Carolina family laws.

How can an innocent spouse file a lawsuit against an adulterous spouse's lover?

Unfortunately, an injured spouse cannot sue a husband or wife who committed adultery. However, under North Carolina law, an innocent spouse can file a lawsuit against the cheating spouse's lover who caused the marriage to end.

There are two ways for an injured spouse to sue the third-party individual responsible for breaking up the marriage:

  • Criminal conversation: This civil case requires evidence that the unfaithful spouse engaged in sexual relations with an outside lover. Most often, this evidence is a video or photograph taken by a private investigator.
  • Alienation of affection: This lawsuit does not require hard evidence of an affair, but only proof that the marriage and the dignity of the innocent spouse were directly damaged by the intentional actions of the cheating spouse's lover.

While ending a marriage due to adultery can be a painful experience, proving or disproving marital misconduct can be beneficial to your post-married life. If you have been a victim of infidelity, you have the right to best possible outcome and a brighter future.

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