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When Does a Court Care if I Cheated?

The 1996 movie “The First Wives Club” follows Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton in their portrayals of three scorned housewives who helped their husbands achieve financial success only to be traded in for younger models. But, does a cheating spouse really face consequences in divorce court? In North Carolina the answer is “possibly yes”, thanks to our state’s statute on “alimony awards”, and is not something you should take lightly.

Alimony” is a term for financial support one former spouse is ordered to pay the other for a certain period of time after divorcing. The spouse paying alimony is called the “supporting spouse” and the spouse receiving alimony is called the “dependent spouse”. Typically, if one spouse earns income during the marriage and the other spouse does not, a court will consider the income-earning spouse as the “supporting spouse” and the other as the “dependent spouse”.

In deciding whether to award alimony in a divorce courts will consider all “relevant factors” and in North Carolina even a single incident of cheating (or, “marital misconduct” as it’s legally termed) can make or break your alimony award. If a court finds the supporting spouse had an extramarital sexual affair before the couple separated it must award alimony to the dependent spouse. But, if a court finds the dependent spouse had an extramarital sexual affair before the couple separated, the dependent spouse is denied alimony.

Whatever side of the equation you find yourself on, the family law attorneys at Apple Payne Law in Kernersville are prepared to assist you in navigating your divorce and protecting your interests. If you aren’t sure what your next steps should be and just want to understand the process better, an Apple Payne Law family attorney is ready answer your questions – give us a call today to set up your consultation.

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