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I was forgiven for that affair . . . why does it still matter?

February 3rd, 2015 by Katherine Frye

On December 31, 2014, the NC Court of Appeals weighed in on the impact a forgiven affair in the context of alimony. Ellis v. Ellis gave us clarity that a forgiven affair does still matter. To what degree, who knows, but it is relevant information to the alimony trial.

In the Ellis case, the wife had an affair, and after two years of attempted reconciliation, the Husband filed a court action. Under NC law, if the financially dependent spouse has an affair (the legal terminology is an “illicit sexual behavior”) that spouse is barred from alimony. There are no ifs, ands or buts on that rule.

The issue in this case centers on whether the forgiven affair is relevant to the alimony case, and the Ellis court stated that the affair can be considered and used for making an alimony determination. There are 15 factors that the law allows the court to consider in awarding or denying alimony. In the case at hand, the court did award alimony; however, the award was only for two years, which I can only assume seemed like a short period of time for the length of the marriage.

As an aside, it appears that the wife seemed to be a bad character in the litigation. She was found to have alienated the children, that she had not been diligent about finding a job, that she was a spendthrift, and that she failed to failed to act in good faith during the litigation. Do you really think that these facts were all seen in isolation?

If you are pursuing or defending against an alimony claim, you need someone who can give you the knowledge, experience, and personal attention with this complex issue. Give our firm a call at 919.846.8807.

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Frye Law Offices, PA is the private practice of Katherine A. Frye, a Board Certified Family Law Specialist. Since 2001, Katherine's practice has focused on all areas of family law, including separation, divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, postseparation support, alimony, and property distribution. We can provide you with an estimate cost and timeline to resolve the issues in your situation.