Even though North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, an affair changes things. North Carolina law § 50-16.3A talks about how alimony works when a spouse cheats. Whether the cheater is the higher or lower earning spouse, cheating changes the situation:
Alimony for the dependent spouse
If you depend on the other spouse for a substantial amount of your support, you’re a dependent spouse. If you’re a dependent spouse, and if your spouse cheats during the marriage, the court must order you alimony. Often, when there’s evidence of cheating, the court will order alimony for much longer and in much greater amounts than they may have ordered if cheating wasn’t an issue in your marriage.
If the dependent spouse cheats
On the other hand, if it’s the dependent spouse that cheats, it’s a complete bar to alimony. Even if the spouse really needs alimony and they’re otherwise a good candidate for alimony, a cheating spouse can’t get alimony. If both spouses cheat, it’s up to the court to decide whether alimony for the dependent spouse is appropriate.
Whether cheating impacts a child custody determination is a more complicated question. The court’s goal for custody is to do what’s in the best interests of the child. A person might be a terrible spouse but a capable parent. On the other hand, if a spouse flaunts their affair to the children or their affair causes them to behave inappropriately as a parent, it could change the court’s child custody determination. The relevant question is how the affair impacts the spouse’s ability to parent.
In order for cheating to alter your divorce outcome, you must prove that it happened. Allegations alone aren’t enough. Instead, you have to have proof. The court looks up until the day you separate to determine if misconduct occurred in your marriage. However, what occurs after you separate can still be evidence of what happened during the marriage.
To build your case, you may conduct depositions and formally demand copies of text messages or phone records. You might also use surveillance in public places in order to gather evidence. Although building evidence can be tedious, your experienced North Carolina divorce attorney can help you go about gathering evidence in an effective way. You can ask a jury to decide the issue of whether either spouse committed misconduct during your marriage.