Month: February 2012

Jim Member of the Law Practice Management Section

Jim Siemens is a member of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina State Bar Association.  The section is devoted to supporting lawyers throughout the State in the delivery of legal services efficiently, professionally and ethically.  One of the functions of the section is to provide continuing legal education to young lawyers throughout the State, interested in establishing legal practices.  As law schools and law school graduates in North Carolina proliferate, more and more young lawyers are electing to begin solo and small practices.  The Law Practice Management Section can support these lawyers, ensuring the delivery of quality legal services to North Carolinians.  Jim is proud to support the efforts of the Law Practice Management Section.  Jim guides the Siemens Family Law Group in the delivery of legal services with the goal of providing efficient, effective, quality legal services to clients.

Alimony Denied

If you are a dependent spouse who is contemplating separation, North Carolina law sets a clear guideline to preserve your right to alimony:  do not engage in any sexual activity outside the marriage until you are separated.  If you do, or even put yourself in an ambiguous situation, you will damage yourself substantially.

North Carolina law provides that alimony shall not be awarded if the dependent spouse case engaged in “illicit sexual behavior” prior to separation.   N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-16.1A(3)a.     In the recent case of Romulus v. Romulus, the Court of Appeals applied this statute to bar alimony to a dependent spouse who had two ambiguous sexual encounters prior to her separation.

The Romulus boyfriend testified that, on two occasions, he either penetrated the dependent spouse with his finger, or touched her with his penis, but did not have intercourse because he was impotent.

The trial court and the Court of Appeals held that the boyfriend’s testimony established that the dependent spouse had engaged in illicit sexual behavior, and thus was barred from receiving alimony.  Even more, the Court held that, because the testimony established both sexual “inclination” and “opportunity” on her part, the dependent spouse could be presumed to have engaged in sexual intercourse.

Although the dependent spouse’s conduct in Romulus was ambiguous, North Carolina law and the Court’s application of  that law were not.  To preserve the  right to alimony, dependent spouses must not engage in any sexual conduct with outside parties prior to separation, and must avoid situations that could be characterized as demonstrating sexual inclination and opportunity.