Adultery can serve as grounds for divorce in North Carolina and also impact various areas of post-divorce settlement. Though North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, an allegation of adultery is a serious issue. If you suspect (or have proof of) your spouse of having committed adultery or if you are being accused of adultery by your spouse in the course of a divorce, it is best to take expert legal advise before proceeding further.
How Adultery Impacts Divorce in North Carolina
Adultery allegations can impact areas of alimony and child custody. An adulterous dependent spouse has no rights for alimony under North Carolina family laws. A supporting spouse who has committed adultery may be forced to make a greater alimony payment to the dependent spouse.
In deciding child custody, the judge has considerable discretion in determining the best interest of the child. While rare, a judge may feel it is inappropriate for the child living with the adulterous spouse. Thus adultery in divorce can impact child custody and even child visitation rights of the parent.
Adultery and Civil Law Suits
While the injured spouse cannot sue the adulterous spouse, North Carolina law allows the former to bring a civil law suit against the person with whom the spouse has cheated. These suits bring into picture clearly the third party responsible for the break up of the marriage. There are two suits that can be pursued by the injured spouse – ‘alienation of affection’ and ‘criminal conversation’.
Though the two law suits differ in their technical details, both are intended to show the role of the third party in breaking up the marriage so that the injured spouse can claim monetary damages for emotional turmoil caused, financial damages suffered (if any) and loss of companionship and marriage.
In both cases, it is necessary to show that the marriage was ‘healthy’ before this person came into the picture. The criminal conversation law suit requires proof of actual sexual encounters between parties concerned. In the alienation of affection suit, such proof is not mandatory. It is sufficient to show that the parties had the inclination and opportunity to indulge in an adulterous affair.
Both suits are long drawn out and can involve hundreds to thousands of dollars in damages.
We at McIlveen Family Law Firm have considerable experience in both pursuing and defending alienation of affection and criminal conversation law suits. We can also help clients pursuing divorce to bring in adultery as grounds for divorce. We also take on clients who are accused of adultery by spouses in the course of the divorce.