How can marital misconduct affect your divorce settlement?

Griffin Law, PLLC
Jul 11, 2023

Marital misconduct involves any unacceptable behavior during the marriage that is enough to end it. Examples of marital misconduct in North Carolina include adultery, abandonment, reckless spending, criminal behavior and financial abuse. The court may take such misconduct into account when awarding alimony.

Actions that constitute marital misconduct

Generally, marital misconduct includes acts that erode the marital relationship. These acts must have occurred during the marriage and before the date of separation. In North Carolina, there are eight ways a spouse is seen to be mistreating the other:

  1. Illicit sexual behavior (engaging in sexual acts with someone other than the spouse)
  2. Involuntary separation due to criminal activities
  3. Abandonment
  4. Malicious turning out-of-doors
  5. Endangering the life of the spouse
  6. Reckless spending or concealment of assets
  7. Abusing drugs or alcohol
  8. Willful failure to provide necessary subsistence making the other spouse’s life intolerable and burdensome

Participating in any of the behaviors above can negatively affect your divorce proceedings, specifically regarding alimony. However, the judge will consider marital misconduct equally with other factors, such as the length of the marriage, the respective contributions of each party to the marriage and the wage gap between the two spouses, before determining alimony.

The spouse who can generate more income will typically take on the role of the supporting spouse, while the other will take on the role of dependent. However, committing infidelity may automatically bar a dependent spouse from receiving alimony and require a supporting spouse to pay it. The facts of the marriage will determine the length and amount of alimony to be paid.

Ultimately, it will be up to the judge to decide how much weight to assign marital misconduct. In some cases, it can have little to no bearing when considering the other variables in the marriage. Finding a family law attorney who can effectively paint you in a positive light using the facts of your case may increase your chances of having a fair divorce settlement.

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