Having an extramarital affair can be devastating to a relationship and often leads to divorce. While all states allow for no-fault divorce, North Dakota is one of the few states that recognize fault-based divorce. Adultery is grounds for fault-based divorce and may also be grounds for spousal support.
In a no-fault divorce the spouse that files for divorce does not need to prove that the other spouse did anything wrong. They must simply just state a reason for the divorce, most commonly irreconcilable differences.
In a fault-based divorce, the spouse filing for divorce must state a legal ground for the divorce. In North Dakota, there are several legal grounds that a spouse can claim including extreme cruelty, alcohol or substance abuse, conviction of a felony, and adultery.
In North Dakota, adultery is defined as the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with a person other than the offender’s husband or wife. In order to be granted a divorce based on the legal ground of adultery, the filing spouse must prove adultery which often involves the introduction of eyewitness accounts or photographs.
Upon granting the divorce, the court may order one spouse to pay spousal support – or alimony – to the other. In determining whether to grant an award of spousal support, the court will take into consideration the circumstance of the parties.
This means that the court may consider not only the financial status of each spouse, the health of each spouse and the duration of the marriage, but also marital misconduct. Therefore, it is in the court’s discretion whether to award spousal support if it finds that a spouse committed adultery.
Going through a divorce can be emotionally difficult and financially devastating. When adultery is involved, it can result in not only the loss of the marriage but an order for spousal support. An experienced attorney can help navigate the intricacies of divorce and prepare parties for all possible outcomes.