Guiding families through all aspects of divorce in North Carolina

Attorneys at Raleigh Divorce Law Firm

Your spouse cheated. Can they be held responsible?

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2023 | Divorce |

Infidelity in a relationship can be devastating, confusing and heartbreaking to say the least. The trust you once had in your partner may disappear completely.

It is not uncommon for spouses to pursue a divorce after experiencing infidelity. In these cases, you may wonder: can you hold the spouse who cheated responsible?

Adultery is technically against state law

As residents of North Carolina may know, adultery is actually a misdemeanor under state law. This is an old law from the 1800s but it is still on the books today.

That does not necessarily mean couples or courts use this law in criminal or divorce cases. It is important to note that the definition of what makes adultery a crime is very specific. It is not simply cheating on a spouse or even having an affair. Additionally, it is incredibly rare – and even unheard of – for anyone to actually face criminal charges for adultery nowadays.

Remember: There is no fault in divorce

In terms of divorce, it is critical to note that North Carolina only recognizes no-fault divorces. Therefore, proving fault – or in this case, holding a spouse responsible for infidelity – is not necessary to end the marriage legally.

Proving fault or assigning blame to one party is not a factor to consider when filing for divorce. Even so, infidelity could potentially affect certain aspects of the divorce, including:

  • The ability to negotiate, and whether you decide to take the divorce to court
  • The amount of alimony payments, if you should seek spousal support
  • The property division settlement, depending on your negotiations

The emotional repercussions of infidelity are significant. Dealing with the emotions of that experience on top of a divorce can be overwhelming, and leave you wanting to hold someone responsible. This desire is understandable, but it is not demonstrable in the legal process of divorce. It is not easy to keep your emotions out of divorce procedures, but it is helpful to find ways to manage these feelings to help the legal process move smoothly.