Types of Misconduct in a North Carolina Divorce

When someone hears “marital misconduct,” they immediately associate this phrase with cheating. While infidelity certainly constitutes a type of marital misconduct in North Carolina, there are many other types that you need to be aware of. Sometimes, spouses commit acts of misconduct without even fully realizing it. This is especially true when it comes to financial misconduct. Make no mistake; marital misconduct can tremendously affect your divorce in the Tar Heel State.

Perhaps you have committed acts of marital misconduct, and you are wondering how this might affect your divorce. You may want to minimize the potential consequences that this misconduct may cause. Or maybe you have experienced marital misconduct during your marriage, and you are wondering how this might benefit you as you file for divorce.

In both situations, it makes sense to get in touch with a divorce attorney as soon as possible. Whether you are trying to mitigate the consequences of misconduct or take full advantage of your spouse’s wrongful actions, an attorney can help you make the most of this situation.

Here are the various types of marital misconduct in North Carolina:


Abandonment is one of the most common forms of marital misconduct. Abandonment occurs when one spouse moves out of the marital home without any real reason or justification. Often, there is no communication at all between the parties before one spouse simply walks out. It can be challenging to prove abandonment since many spouses have valid reasons for not communicating with their partner before leaving.

For example, a spouse might be forced to leave out of fear for their own safety. Or perhaps the spouse left because their partner was engaging in marital misconduct, such as cheating. Like all forms of marital misconduct, abandonment can have an impact on alimony. It may also affect a judge’s decision on matters related to child custody and child support.

Cruel Treatment

“Cruel and barbarous treatment” is a type of marital misconduct that includes emotional and mental cruelty. In some cases, this treatment can be physical, and it can endanger the other spouse’s life. In other cases, the treatment may be purely emotional and mental, and it may include no physical abuse whatsoever. It is not considered cruel treatment if a spouse provoked the hurtful behavior in some way. This type of marital misconduct is crucial because it can allow one spouse to obtain a divorce from bed and board.

Financial Misconduct

Financial misconduct is another common type of marital misconduct that can occur in several different ways. Spouses often try to conceal assets as they approach divorce to hold onto as much wealth as possible. If they are caught, they may experience serious legal consequences. In some cases, they can even face criminal charges. In other situations, they may be required to pay the legal fees of their former spouse.

Other examples of financial misconduct include reckless spending, gambling, or simply throwing away pieces of property. This is generally the only type of marital misconduct that can affect property division, as this may be one of the factors that a judge takes into account as they deal with the equitable distribution process.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is another important example of marital misconduct. This can take the form of alcohol or drug abuse. As well as affecting alimony, substance abuse can also affect a spouse’s chances of retaining child custody.

Involuntary Separation

Involuntary separation is when one spouse is incarcerated during the marriage. This counts as a type of marital misconduct, and it may affect things like alimony.

Illicit Sexual Behavior

Otherwise known as cheating or infidelity, illicit sexual behavior is another typical example of marital misconduct in North Carolina. If a spouse is guilty of this misconduct, they may be barred from receiving any alimony whatsoever. Alternatively, they may be forced to pay alimony if they are the primary wage earner.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the North Carolina area for a divorce attorney, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We have helped numerous spouses in the Tar Heel State as they strive to approach their divorces in an efficient way. Although marital misconduct certainly has the potential to make your divorce more complicated, we can guide you toward the most desirable outcome. As you can see, there are many types of marital misconduct you need to be aware of, and each can affect your divorce in a different way. Book your consultation today, and we can confidently tackle these issues.