Marital misconduct is defined under North Carolina General Statute as any of the following acts that occur during a marriage and prior to the date of separation:
- Illicit sexual behavior between one spouse and someone other than the other spouse;
- Involuntary separation of the spouses in consequence of a criminal act;
- Malicious turning of doors;
- Cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other spouse;
- Indignities rendering the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome;
- Reckless spending of the income of either party, or destruction, waste, diversion, or concealment of assets;
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable or burdensome;
- Willful failure to provide necessary subsistence according to one’s means and condition as to render the conditions of the other spouse intolerable or burdensome.
North Carolina is what is considered a “no-fault” divorce state, which means marital misconduct is not a grounds for divorce but is relevant for many different actions related to divorce. Marital misconduct is relevant for claims of post-separation support and alimony. However, marital misconduct is not relevant for claims for claims of equitable distribution and child support. Marital misconduct typically does not impact child custody unless the Court finds that the misconduct affects the children at issue.
When dealing with post-separation support and alimony we classify each spouse as either “supporting” or “dependent”. In a nutshell, the supporting spouse earns more money than the defendant spouse, who needs financial support from the other spouse, and these designations are not based on gender, they are based solely on finances.
There are (generally) three ways that marital conduct will affect post-separation support and alimony:
- Dependent spouse commits marital misconduct = barred from receiving post-separation support or alimony.
- Supporting spouse commits marital misconduct = dependent spouse more likely to receive post-separation support and/or alimony
- Both spouses commit marital misconduct = consider other factors when considering post-separation support and alimony.
While the general rules above apply to marital misconduct there are exceptions to these general rules. If you believe your spouse committed marital misconduct or if you committed marital misconduct against your spouse, you should speak with an attorney about your specific situation and what your options are. Contact King Law at 888-748- (5464)KING for a consultation. We have offices located across western North Carolina. King Law is here to serve you and help navigate this journey you are on.