ED - Misconduct as financial contributor?


#1

I know that marital misconduct is not, in and of itself, considered during equitable distribution. However, I am seeing some documents state that if the misconduct substantially impacts the financial situation of the marriage, it can be considered.

If a spouse indulges in alcohol abuse to the point that they cannot or do not seek employment, and incurs large debts in rehab facilities and hospital visits in the process, putting the burden of support on the other spouse, does this constitute a misconduct that would qualify for consideration during ED? Would the supporting spouse be entitled to more consideration given the larger burden carried, thanks to the dependent spouse’s misconduct? If so, how would this be introduced during the ED process?


#2

Yes, these kind of actions or inactions could be considered in a division of marital property if they can be proven to have had an economic impact on the marital estate. And if proven, the judge could award the non-offending spouse a greater portion of the estate if the judge views that award as equitable under the circumstances.

Further, the medical debt resulting to rehab facilities and hospital visits can be argued as that spouse’s separate debt that should not be included in equitable distribution at all. And any alimony that the dependent spouse is seeking could be impacted due to the offending spouse’s actions or inactions if proven as marital misconduct.

This can be testified about at court, making sure to focus on how and why the actions and inactions of the offending spouse had an economic impact on the marital estate (for example: extra credit card debt was incurred because the offending spouse could not hold a job). Also, some counties have a space to include these arguments on the Equitable Distribution Inventory Affidavit, which is completed and exchanged well before a trial date.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#3

Thank you for that info, that helps. There are virtually NO marital assets (a car with a loan is about it, the home is a rental) but there’s a LOT of marital debt, much of it related to the alcohol abuse. If STBX goes for bankruptcy, I won’t be able to do much about that, but at least logging the debts and how they were incurred should help me, correct? If I cannot afford the litigation involved in a suit for post-separation support or any sort of discovery, I’m going to have to depend on the ED part of the process to get the debt settled fairly.


#4

Keeping track of the marital debt and the purpose of the debt will help. A debt is considered marital if it was incurred during the marriage and for a marital purpose. Note that if your spouse files for bankruptcy, any equitable distribution action that is pending will be stayed (put on hold) until the bankruptcy court resolves their case.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.