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What Happens When I Commit Adultery in North Carolina?

If you have committed adultery in North Carolina, you might be wondering what happens next. In most cases, marital infidelity is not something that is planned out. Try as we might, sometimes it is impossible to control the way we feel. Because of this, you may be worried about the legal consequences, especially if you have not had the chance to look into the specific laws regarding adultery in North Carolina.

Even if you feel overwhelmed and stressed about the consequences of adultery, there is always help for those who need it. When you enlist the help of a qualified attorney, you can mitigate the potential legal consequences. An experienced attorney can use many methods and tactics to help limit the impact of adultery on things like alimony, child support, and child custody.

Adultery is Considered a Criminal Offense in North Carolina

While the majority of other states throughout the nation have removed criminal penalties for the offense of adultery, North Carolina is one of the few that has not. Adultery is indeed considered a crime in the Tar Heel State, and it is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

The exact wording of the law is slightly vague and open to interpretation. That being said, the law clearly states that you will be considered guilty of adultery if you are not married to someone and you “lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together.”

The penalties for a Class 2 misdemeanor are somewhat serious. If found guilty, you face up to two months’ worth of community punishment. This may take the form of up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

With all that being said, it is rare for a prosecutor to bring adultery charges against a defendant in North Carolina. It is much more common for spouses to use adultery as a basis for other types of legal action, such as alimony cases, child support cases, and child custody battles. In addition, people in North Carolina are legally entitled to sue the person who had an affair with their spouse. However, the spouse who committed adultery cannot be sued in a so-called “heart balm tort.”

Is Adultery Grounds for Divorce?

There is only one real way to obtain a divorce in North Carolina, and this is by living apart for at least one year. This is known as an absolute divorce, which is a “no fault” separation. As the name implies, neither spouse needs to be “at fault” for the divorce to be granted. This means that the Iredell County courts will not take adultery into account when granting divorces. Adultery can contribute to the breakdown of your marriage, but the act does not provide legal grounds for a divorce.

On the other hand, Adultery is one of the six accepted grounds for a divorce from room and board. Despite its name, a divorce from room and board does not actually dissolve the marriage. This is simply a court-ordered decree of separation that can force the injured party to evict the spouse who committed adultery from the marital home.

What Happens With My Alimony?

If you have committed adultery, your alimony situation may change depending on a number of factors. If you are the paying spouse, you will be automatically ordered to pay alimony to your spouse if you have committed adultery. You will not get an opportunity to dispute or contest this in court, unless you can prove that the adultery charges do not hold up.

If you are not the paying spouse, you may not be awarded alimony after committing adultery. If your spouse can prove that you have committed adultery, the judge will likely decide that you are not eligible for alimony payments. If both spouses have committed adultery, the judge will make their own decision based on the specific circumstances.

Does Adultery Impact Child Custody?

Adultery may impact your child custody situation. If your spouse can prove that you have committed adultery, the Iredell County judge may decide that it reflects negatively on your fitness as a parent. Not only will they be more likely to grant custody to your spouse, but you may also be granted limited visitation rights.

Getting Legal Help

If you have committed adultery, it is important to seek experienced legal help as soon as possible. Reach out to Arnold & Smith PLLC today at 704-370-2828, to schedule a consultation either over the phone, via video conference or at one of our three offices located in Charlotte, Monroe and Mooresville, and we will help you limit the legal consequences of your actions.