Dear Carolyn:

My ex wants alimony, but she had a relationship with a guy when we separated. She says I cannot prove she is doing anything, as she is cagey. There were hundreds of phone calls before separation. I know they are seeing each other now and going on trips, but she says the phone calls before separation are not romantic and are evidence of nothing. Intuitively, I know what is going on. So can I use these hundreds of phone calls to show they were in a relationship before separation?


Carolyn Answers:

Many factors determine the amount and duration of alimony in North Carolina. Misconduct is one of many factors, but if the misconduct is illicit sexual misconduct – alimony is barred. “Barred” means you owe no alimony. Illicit sexual misconduct (adultery) is often proved by circumstantial evidence. There is a new North Carolina Court of Appeals case, Huffman v. Huffman, about phone calls as circumstantial evidence. The Court of Appeals held that phone calls were circumstantial evidence of a romantic relationship. In Huffman, the calls were frequent and extensive. In one month, there were 116 calls and texting. Based upon Huffman, her calls may show an inclination for adultery. You still need to show the opportunity for sex to complete your circumstantial proof of adultery. For example, were your ex’s whereabouts unknown certain nights or weekends?

Your case and all the facts should be carefully reviewed and assessed with your attorney. Look for a North Carolina Family Law Specialist. Good luck!


Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”