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Adultry is against NC law, but if the act by an NC citizen took place outside NC, is it subject to NC law?

Cary, NC |

In other words, there are NC laws specifically about adultry, but if the act of adultry took place in another state, can that be used in divorce in NC?

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Attorney answers 2


Your question is a bit ambiguous. If you want a criminal prosecution, I doubt very much a crime committed in another state may be carried through to completion in NC. If you want to use it as grounds for divorce, and if NC divorce laws allow adultery as grounds, then yes, it may apply. However, before you decide to go that route, remember: criminals are guaranteed a jury trial, and proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt. Here, in Mass., it is against the law, but most lawyers and judges eschew cases like this, because of the issue of a jury (State law precludes juries in divorce matters), and the heavier burden of proof.


Adultery is not prosecuted as a criminal offense in NC, but it is grounds for civil actions such as alimony, divorce from bed and board, etc. If both parties live here, then a civil case for alimony, etc. can be litigated here, even if the offensive conduct took place elsewhere. Let's face it, lots of cheating spouses intentionally choose to take their conduct out of state to try and hide it, i.e., Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, etc. However, what happens in Vegas does not necessarily stay in Vegas, no matter what that commercial says. If that were true, then everyone could easily evade and avoid our domestic civil laws just by doing their bad deeds across the state line. That would be a silly outcome, and not one intended by the legislature.
The same is true for equitable distribution of marital property cases. A NC judge can divide a couple's property here, even if the property is actually located in another state.

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