Does Fault Matter in Divorce?

If you’re planning on getting a divorce from your spouse, you may already be collecting evidence against them. Whether you’re accusing them of adultery or of being violent or controlling, you’re doing the right thing documenting that information.

That being said, fault doesn’t necessarily matter during your divorce in North Carolina. In fact, North Carolina is a no-fault state. What that means is that you don’t need to prove a fault to get a divorce. You don’t even have to give a reason for wanting to divorce your spouse.

However, proving a fault could help your case in some situations. In cases where faults apply, known as divorces from bed and board, the at-fault party could lose some of their rights if it’s proven that they were at fault for the separation.

Which faults are recognized in North Carolina?

North Carolina law recognizes six divorce faults. These include:

  • Adultery
  • Substance abuse
  • Cruel or endangering treatment
  • Forced departure
  • Humiliation (when life is no longer tolerable)
  • Abandonment

It’s important to document your spouse’s actions if you want to prove one of these faults occurred. Being able to do that may help you get divorced more quickly or obtain a greater portion of your marital estate.

How does fault apply when splitting up your assets?

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, so your marital assets should be split equitably, not necessarily equally. Usually, when you’re splitting up your assets, the court looks at several factors. These may include how long your marriage lasted, any faults that impacted your finances, how much each spouse worked, if you have children together, and other factors.

Although faults are reviewed, they won’t normally impact property division unless the fault led to the estate being less valuable. For example, if your savings was depleted because your spouse bought a vehicle for their new partner out of your shared account, then the court may award you the value of that property as a penalty.

Faults may also allow you to seek spousal support from your spouse because North Carolina does allow marital misconduct to be considered in support cases. This is something to keep in mind if you’re trying to decide if you want to try to prove the fault in court.

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