What Acts Are Considered Marital Misconduct in NC?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

October 5, 2018

Marital misconduct consists of various forms of bad behavior that can harm you and your spouse’s marriage. Sometimes, this misconduct can take a marriage beyond the breaking point, in which case you and your spouse may begin divorce proceedings. Allegations of marital misconduct often become the focal point of a divorce case. This is because evidence of misconduct can affect how a judge awards alimony. For this reason, divorce lawyers often direct much of their energy towards proving (or disproving) acts of marital misconduct.

If your spouse is alleging you committed marital misconduct in North Carolina, call a marital misconduct attorney from Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970, or reach out online to schedule a case consultation.

North Carolina Law Recognizes Nine Types of Marital Misconduct

You can find the legal definition of marital misconduct in North Carolina General Statutes § 50-16.1A (3). Any of the following acts are considered marital misconduct so long as they occurred during your marriage and before the date of your separation:

  • Having sex with a person other than your spouse
  • Committing a crime which causes you and your spouse to involuntarily separate
  • Abandoning your spouse without justification, their consent, and the intent of getting back together
  • Emotionally or physically abandoning your spouse
  • Cruelly endangering your spouse’s life
  • Submitting your spouse to indignities that make their life burdensome
  • Recklessly spending marital income or concealing assets
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs in a way that makes life unbearable for your spouse
  • Willfully failing to provide necessary material comfort in a manner that makes your spouse’s life intolerable

It is proven that you committed any of the above actions, your spouse could get the upper hand in divorce proceedings. Once you are certain that you will separate from your spouse, you should only contact them through your lawyer to avoid providing their side with any evidence of marital misconduct. You never know how your seemingly innocuous statements about the past could be construed as admissions of misconduct by a clever attorney.

What Are the Consequences of Marital Misconduct?

Marital misconduct is an important factor that judges use in determining alimony. Alimony refers to the financial support that one former spouse must supply to the other after a divorce. Generally, the supporting spouse must provide alimony to the dependent spouse, unless evidence of their marital misconduct demands otherwise.

If you are a dependent spouse asking for alimony from your supporting spouse, the judge will review several factors, including:

  • Whether you committed marital misconduct
  • The length of your marriage
  • Your age and health
  • The income difference between you and your spouse
  • Your earning capacity
  • Your contributions to the marriage
  • The care you provided to children

Misconduct is usually weighed equally to these other factors in determining alimony awards. But there’s an exception: infidelity. When there is evidence that you cheated on the supporting spouse, you may be barred from receiving alimony. Conversely, a supporting spouse who cheats on the dependent spouse will generally have to provide the dependent spouse with alimony following the divorce.

Can I Mitigate the Effects of Marital Misconduct on My Divorce Proceedings?

Judges have wide discretion in awarding alimony, meaning that the outcome of your divorce proceeding will depend on the facts of your case, and the ability of your lawyer to articulate them in your favor. If you are concerned about the effect of alleged marital misconduct on your divorce proceedings, you should talk to a North Carolina divorce lawyer today. The sooner you get an attorney on your side, the better your chances of ensuring that you and your spouse part ways fairly.

To gain a clearer view about your legal options during a divorce, call Breeden Law Office today at (919) 661-4970, or reach out via our online form to schedule a consultation.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden