Marital Misconduct Impact on Alimony

Marital Misconduct Impact on Alimony

In North Carolina, the law governing alimony is North Carolina General Statute § 50-16.3A. The alimony statute addresses marital misconduct as follows:

“The court shall exercise its discretion in determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony. The duration of the award may be for a specified or for an indefinite term. In determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1) The marital misconduct of either of the spouses. Nothing herein shall prevent a court from considering incidents of post date-of-separation marital misconduct as corroborating evidence supporting other evidence that marital misconduct occurred during the marriage and prior to date of separation.”

The North Carolina law defines what marital misconduct means in North Carolina General Statute § 50-16.1A as follows:

(3) "Marital misconduct" means any of the following acts that occur during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation:

a. Illicit sexual behavior. For the purpose of this section, illicit sexual behavior means acts of sexual or deviate sexual intercourse, deviate sexual acts, or sexual acts defined in G.S. 14-27.20(4), voluntarily engaged in by a spouse with someone other than the other spouse;

b. Involuntary separation of the spouses in consequence of a criminal act committed prior to the proceeding in which alimony is sought;

c. Abandonment of the other spouse;

d. Malicious turning out-of-doors of the other spouse;

e. Cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other spouse;

f. Indignities rendering the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome;

g. Reckless spending of the income of either party, or the destruction, waste, diversion, or concealment of assets;

h. Excessive use of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome;

i. Willful failure to provide necessary subsistence according to one's means and condition so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome.

One of the most common acts of marital misconduct is having an affair, which is referred to as “illicit sexual behavior” in the above definition. If you are the person requesting the spousal support (referred to as the dependent spouse) and the judge finds that you have committed marital misconduct in the form of illicit sexual behavior, the law says that you, as the dependent spouse, is barred from receiving alimony. However, if the judge finds that the person that will be paying the spousal support (referred to as the supporting spouse) has committed marital misconduct, then such acts of marital misconduct are a factor in the awarding of the amount of alimony as well as the duration in which alimony is paid to the dependent spouse.

If you are in need of legal advice in a divorce regarding payment of spousal support, please contact one of our lawyers at Jetton & Meredith. Our family law attorneys are equipped with knowledge and experience to help you maneuver through these difficult times.


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