What is Marital Misconduct and How Does it Impact My North Carolina Divorce?

At the David W. Martin Law Group, our Charlotte family law attorneys field a lot of questions about marital misconduct, and how it impacts divorce proceedings.

The short answer is, North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means marital misconduct is not relevant during the proceedings. North Carolina allows spouses to get divorced for any reason, so long as they have been separated for one year or more.

However, marital misconduct may become a factor during claims of post-separation support and alimony.

Here is what North Carolina residents need to know.

What is Considered Marital Misconduct in North Carolina?

North Carolina Law defines marital misconduct as any of the following acts that occur during a marriage and prior to the date of separation:

  • Abandonment
  • Cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other spouse.
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable or burdensome.
  • Illicit sexual behavior between one spouse and someone other than the other spouse.
  • Indignities rendering the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome.
  • Involuntary separation of the spouses in consequence of a criminal act.
  • Malicious turning of doors.
  • Reckless spending of the income of either party, or destruction, waste, diversion, or concealment of assets.
  • Willful failure to provide necessary subsistence according to one’s means as to render the conditions of the other spouse intolerable or burdensome.

Marital misconduct may only affect post-separation support and alimony and is not relevant for claims of equitable distribution or child support. Marital misconduct typically does not impact child custody either, unless the Court finds that the misconduct affects the well-being of the children.

How Does Marital Misconduct Affect Post-Separation Support and Alimony in North Carolina?

When dealing with post-separation support and alimony, we must establish which spouse is the dependent, and which is the supporting spouse.

These designations are not based on gender, they are based solely on finances, and become important when determining what impact marital misconduct will have on post-separation support or alimony.

Here is why:

  • If the dependent spouse commits marital misconduct, he or she is barred from receiving post-separation support or alimony.
  • If the supporting spouse commits marital misconduct, the dependent spouse may be more likely to receive post-separation support and/or alimony.
  • If both spouses commit marital misconduct, their actions cancel each other out. That means consideration for post-separation support and alimony will be based solely on other relevant factors.

If you believe marital misconduct has played a role in your marriage’s dissolution, or if you would like to know more about divorce in North Carolina, contact our skilled divorce attorneys in North Carolina at 980-265-9724 today, so we can outline all potential strategies that will allow you to pursue the best outcome for your case.


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