Cheating and Divorce

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Does adultery affect my divorce case?”


As a former mayor of New York City and attorney to the President, Rudy Giuliani is no stranger to being in the press. Recently, he has made the headlines, not for his political career or attorney work, but for a divorce to his soon to be ex-wife. His ex-wife has recently made allegations that he was having an affair during their marriage, according to the Washington Examiner.


Brooklyn-bridge-Charlotte-Adultery-Alimony-Lawyer-Law-Firm-300x150The words cheating, infidelity, or affair are not uncommon to hear when talking about divorce. Many divorces across the United States result because of one or both spouses being unfaithful to the other. When a lot of people think about divorce, they think about what caused the divorce and what will happen to both parties after divorce. However, it is not always discussed how an affair could affect the terms of a divorce, or even if it will affect the divorce outcome. Each state has its own laws regarding divorce, and North Carolina is no exception.


Filing for Divorce


In North Carolina, there are two grounds upon which to file for divorce – incurable insanity or a separation for at least one year. Separation of at least one year is the more common type of divorce in North Carolina. Either spouse is allowed to petition the court for divorce after they have been separated for one year.


As you can see above, an affair is not an official grounds for divorce in North Carolina. A spouse is not allowed to file a divorce on the grounds of infidelity. However, an affair can lead to a divorce by causing the separation between the parties. While adultery cannot be the official grounds for divorce, adultery can be a potential misdemeanor charge. According to North Carolina General Statute §14-184, adultery occurs when a man or woman who is married “lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together.” The spouse who was cheated on can also file a civil suit against the cheating spouse’s new partner.


Alimony Implications


Another consideration in a divorce that results from an affair is how that will affect any alimony that might be awarded. North Carolina law outlines the considerations for determining alimony. A spouse can receive alimony if it is determined that he or she is financially dependent on the other spouse. The court must determine that awarding alimony to one spouse is fair. A court can consider marital misconduct, like cheating, when awarding alimony. It is important to note that while the court can deny or award alimony based on cheating, any misconduct that is condoned by a spouse will not affect the divorce. This means that if the spouse knows of the affair and has forgiven the cheater, then the court will take that information into account. Additionally, there is no requirement for a court to award alimony, even in the event that there is marital misconduct.


If you are facing divorce and have questions about an affair, either yours or your spouses, the divorce attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are the attorneys for you. We will inform you of the implications of any actions during a marriage and the potential consequences. We will put your interests first and fight for what you want. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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