So, 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.