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How does marital misconduct impact alimony?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Family Law |

As a no-fault divorce state, North Carolina law does not require a couple to provide a specific reason for the split. It is possible that their broken relationship is simply beyond repair.

But while they do not have to prove that one party wronged the other, marital misconduct or unacceptable behavior may still occur. It can affect other significant divorce issues, like alimony or post-separation support.

Instead of a precise formula to calculate how much a supporting party must pay for the needs of the dependent party, the state’s courts consider an extensive list of factors. Some of the factors considered are the couple’s length of marriage, their overall well-being and their existing and potential earning capacities.

Aside from these elements, the judge examines each party’s marital misconduct, which encompasses several inappropriate actions.

What are the forms of marital misconduct?

Per state laws, for a judge to take the following types of marital misconduct into account, it must happen during the marriage or on or before the separation date:

  • Illicit sexual behavior
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Cruel treatment with life-threatening outcomes
  • Reckless income spending or deliberate asset concealment
  • Abandonment or leaving the house for no good reason or without the other party’s consent
  • Malicious turning out-of-doors or without a reasonable justification for home eviction
  • Intentional failure to provide for basic necessities, like food, water, clothing or shelter, making for the other party’s burdensome living

Depending on the unique facts of the case, the judge may exercise discretion not to award alimony. But if, for example, the other party tolerated the offending party’s illicit sexual behavior even after being aware of it, the judge may revisit the circumstances and not deny alimony by default.

How is a resolution reached?

There are nuances to the law that may only be discovered with a legal counsel’s professional guidance. After addressing all marital misconduct issues, the couple may decide to reach a settlement agreement regarding alimony. The terms may indicate whether payments will be in lump sum or installments. But if disputes persist, a trial may ensue, which necessitates legal help even more.