It is important to know that North Carolina is a no-fault state for divorce which means there are no requirements or “grounds” that need to be met in order to file for divorce. Therefore, while a cheating spouse has no impact on filing for a divorce, it can have a significant impact on other aspects of the divorce proceedings, specifically alimony.
Alimony in North Carolina is governed by the statute 50-16.3A which outlines all the factors in which the Court awards alimony. Generally speaking, the Court will award alimony to the dependent spouse from the supporting spouse. The dependent spouse is the spouse in actual and substantial need of maintenance and support of the other spouse, usually financially speaking. There are three factors to consider when determining whether cheating will impact alimony.
If the dependent spouse is the cheating spouse, Courts have held that to be an absolute bar to alimony, meaning, the cheating dependent spouse has no rights to alimony under North Carolina law. This is a statutory rule and one the courts do not deviate from.
Next, if the supporting spouse is the cheating spouse, the dependent spouse is still entitled to receive alimony from the supporting spouse. In some cases, we have seen the Court order a greater amount of alimony, and for a longer period of time than required by the statute, when it is the supporting spouse who has cheated.
Lastly, if both spouses engaged in cheating, then it is within the Court’s discretion as to whether alimony is awarded to the dependent spouse. The Court will review and consider all the circumstances of both parties, but it is important to remember that if either party has “forgiven” the other, the misconduct that was forgiven, cannot be considered by the court for alimony.