Infidelity remains one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. If you discovered your spouse cheating, you may find yourself among these ranks. Yet, you may worry that the court will not consider their behavior as you work toward a settlement. Unlike many states, though, adultery can affect the outcome of divorces in North Carolina. And it can do so in surprising ways.

Infidelity can affect alimony

Your spouse’s infidelity qualifies as illicit sexual behavior under North Carolina’s alimony laws. This behavior is one of the few ways they can lose eligibility for support in the state. If your spouse earned less than you and your marriage ended due to their infidelity, then you would not have to pay alimony. Keep in mind, though, that the opposite is also true. If your marriage collapsed due to infidelity on your part, any alimony you pay may increase in amount and duration.

Infidelity can lead to legal action

North Carolina is one of the few states that allow alienation of affection lawsuits. This provision permits you to pursue damages against the person your spouse had an affair with. For your suit to stand in a court of law, you must prove that your marriage was otherwise sound before your spouse’s infidelity. Furthermore, you will need to prove that the third party’s interference led to its collapse. You can also pursue a similar suit against your spouse for criminal conversation. This term refers to any intercourse your spouse engaged in outside your marriage’s bounds. Yet, for your suit to stand, you must prove you did not consent to your spouse’s actions and that they had the opportunity and inclination to engage in them. Keep in mind that you have a three-year statute of limitation to take legal action against either offense. And you cannot do so if your spouse’s actions occurred during your separation.

North Carolina’s laws favor the wronged when adultery leads to divorce. If your marriage is ending due to your spouse’s infidelity, an attorney with family law experience can help you find a way forward.