Articles Posted in Cheating Spouses

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Div12-200x200North Carolina is one of only a small handful of states that allows for the filing of a lawsuit and cause of action against your unfaithful spouse’s lover. The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently upheld the ability in some cases to sue the person who had the affair with your spouse. This is called “alienation of affection,” or interference with a marriage, and “criminal conversation,” or adultery, as the basis.

The court of appeals noted, “They further the state’s desire to protect a married couple’s vow of fidelity and to prevent the personal injury and societal harms that result when that vow is broken.” They added, preventing “personal injuries and societal harms is a substantial government issue.”

The court rejected the argument that the laws are unconstitutional because they violate individual rights to intimate sexual activity and expression with other consenting adults.

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CoupleArgue-200x200So, you have a cheating spouse.  Or maybe you’re the spouse having an affair?  What does that mean for a divorce?  It can be relevant for quite a few different things.

First, there are two types of divorce in North Carolina.  The first and most common divorce is generally referred to as an absolute divorce.  An absolute divorce can be granted one year and a day after the spouses separate.  There is “no fault” required for an absolute divorce.  Once an absolute divorce is granted, the spouses are no longer legally married.  The second type of divorce is called divorce from bed and board.  This divorce does require fault, meaning the filing spouse must show injury from the accused spouse’s actions based on an enumerated list in NCGS 50.7 (including adultery).  Unlike an absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board does not require a separation period and does not legally end the marriage.

Secondly, adultery can influence child custody.  No, the court will not grant sole custody based on adultery alone.  Child custody and visitation is determined by the best interest of the child.  Some courts will use evidence of cheating in making their decision.  Let me be clear, adultery will not terminate a parent’s right to custody, but among other factors, it could help a judge decide on a custody schedule.

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