Dec. 18, 2023

Can I Sue My Spouse for Adultery in North Carolina?

cheating couple afraid of husband or wife coming into bedroomAdultery is an act that can shatter the foundation of trust in a marriage, leading to emotional turmoil and often, the dissolution of the marital union. In North Carolina, the legal system acknowledges the severe impact of adultery, not only on the emotional well-being of the aggrieved spouse but also on the sanctity of marriage as an institution.

Adultery and Divorce Proceedings in NC

The term ‘adultery’ refers to voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. It can be a devastating experience for the spouse who is betrayed, and can lead to a number of negative consequences, including:

  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of trust
  • Divorce
  • Financial hardship

Adultery is classified as a criminal offense under the category of a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina, so it can be a basis for a civil lawsuit. This means that you may be able to sue your spouse for adultery if it has caused you to suffer significant harm.

It’s also crucial to be aware of the evidentiary requirements and the potential impact on divorce proceedings. While North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, adultery can still have a significant impact on your divorce. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Adultery is one of the factors that judges consider when awarding alimony. If you can prove that your spouse’s adultery caused the breakdown of your marriage, you may be more likely to be awarded alimony. However, it is important to note that judges also consider other factors, such as the length of the marriage, the income of both spouses, and the needs of the dependent spouse.
  • Adultery can also impact child custody decisions. If the judge believes that your spouse’s adultery has harmed the children, they may be more likely to award you primary custody. However, judges also consider other factors, such as the relationship between the parent and child, the child’s best interests, and the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs.
  • In North Carolina, property is divided equitably in divorce cases. This means that the judge will try to divide the property in a way that is fair to both spouses. Adultery can be one of the factors that judges consider when dividing property. For example, if the judge finds that your spouse dissipated marital assets during the affair, they may award you a larger share of the property.

Legal Recourse Beyond Divorce: Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation

Apart from divorce proceedings, North Carolina law also provides other avenues for legal recourse. These include claims for ‘Alienation of Affection’ and ‘Criminal Conversation.’ While not direct lawsuits against a spouse for adultery, these claims target the third party involved in the affair.

Alienation of Affection suits are filed on the grounds that the third party’s wrongful actions led to the loss of love and affection in the marriage, whereas Criminal Conversation is a legal action taken against the third party for engaging in sexual relations with a married person.

The Importance of Evidence

If you are planning to bring up adultery in your divorce case, you will need to provide evidence to support your claims. This evidence may include:

  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Photographs
  • Witness testimony

It is important to note that judges will not consider evidence that is obtained illegally. For example, if you hack into your spouse’s email account, the judge will likely not consider the emails that you obtain as evidence.

Protecting Your Rights and Moving Forward

The revelation of adultery can be a turning point in your life, filled with emotional and legal challenges. In North Carolina, the law provides several avenues for legal recourse, acknowledging the profound impact of adultery on marriages and families. Whether you are considering divorce, seeking alimony, or involved in child custody and adoption matters, understanding your legal options is crucial.

At Mercedes O. Chut, P.A., we are committed to providing comprehensive legal support in family law matters in Greensboro, NC. Our experience in handling cases involving adultery, alimony, divorce, child custody, and adoption ensures that you receive the guidance and representation you need during these trying times.

If you are grappling with the legal implications of adultery in your marriage, do not hesitate to reach out. Contact us for a consultation, and let us help you navigate the complexities of North Carolina family law, protecting your rights and paving the way for a brighter future.

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