Is Adultery Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina?
It is probably one of the worst feelings in the world: discovering that your spouse is cheating on you with someone else. This sort of betrayal can have huge effects on you and your family. If you feel like you can no longer trust your spouse, and that their betrayal is just too much for you, you may even wish to get divorced. If that is the case, then there are a few steps and requirements that you need to consider first. There are also programs that may help you and your family should you need support during the period of transition while you and your spouse are separated.
What does Dear Abby have to say about adultery?
In March of 2022, a woman calling herself “The Mistress” wrote to Dear Abby, a famous advice columnist. The Mistress detailed how she had fallen in love with a man she had been seeing for some time. This man was quite older than him, but that was not the main problem: he was married with kids. The question The Mistress poses to Dear Abby is whether she should stay with the married man and continue to live a secret life until one day he decides to choose her over his wife, or if she should just move away and move on.
Dear Abby sees the problem, just as many of us do. She points out that the husband is very likely not going to leave his marriage and children for his young mistress, but is probably most likely going to someday replace his current mistress with a more attractive and younger mistress. Abby tells the young woman to move on to better men than that because this affair is not going anywhere.
Adultery is a huge deal for most people, and if that man’s wife finds out about the affair, it could easily spell out the end of their marriage. However, if they live in North Carolina, they will find that there are a few requirements before one is allowed to file for divorce.
How does North Carolina view adultery and divorce?
There are several states that view adultery as a crime, and North Carolina is one of them. According to North Carolina Code § 14-184, adultery in North Carolina is Class 2 misdemeanor.
North Carolina is a no-fault state when it comes to divorces. This means that either spouse in the marriage can file for divorce without having to prove that the other spouse did anything wrong.
Do I need a separation before divorcing?
The state of North Carolina, it is required that if a couple wishes to get divorced, they have to be separated from each other for at least a full year. A separation is defined by North Carolina code § 50-6 as “Marriages may be dissolved and the parties thereto divorced from the bonds of matrimony on the application of either party, if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for one year, and the plaintiff or defendant in the suit for divorce has resided in the State for a period of six months.”
As both you and your partner live in separate residences (two separate homes, not two separate homes in the same home), you must also stop engaging in any sexual activity with the partner whom you are separated from.
While you do not need a legal separation in North Carolina, you need to be able to prove to the courts that you have been living separately for at least a year.
How will adultery affect child custody, support, and alimony?
As it is ultimately up to the courts to decide on how child custody, support, and visitation are handled, the judge may see the adultery as a moral lacking and a show of poor decision-making skills on the part of the parent of the child who had had the affair. The judge may award child custody to the parent who had not had the affair.
North Carolina has guidelines that courts use in order to determine child support (income of each parent, healthcare costs, etc.), but if one parent is living with another adult at the time (perhaps the person with whom the parent was having the affair), then that may shift the guidelines because one parent is having their income supplemented by another person.
When it comes to alimony, also referred to as spousal support, the person guilty of the affair is the one who will be made to pay alimony to the other parent.
Do I need the help of Epperson Law Group, PLLC?
If your partner had an affair while you two were married, and you are wanting a divorce, then the first thing you should do is separate from your spouse physically. Then you should contact one of our Charlotte divorce attorneys so that we can help you prepare and go through your divorce. We can help with the decisions that need to be made between the two parties, including parenting plans and alimony. Divorces can be messy, especially when child custody and alimony are in discussion. It is likely your partner will have a divorce lawyer, giving them an advantage. Give yourself an advantage as well.
At Epperson Law Group, PLLC, our family law attorneys have been helping people through their divorces for years. We know what we are doing, and we know how to put you and your family first when it comes to these stressful and complicated times. You do not need more on your plate than you already have. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Concord, Boone, and Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.
Steven B. Ockerman is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Washington University School of Law. He has practiced law for over 25 years, concentrating on family law matters for over 16 years, and is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law since 2009.
Find out more about Steven B. Ockerman