Should I ask for a jury trial in my alimony case in North Carolina?

 

North Carolina law, G.S. § 50-16.3A(d), allows a jury trial on the issue of marital misconduct for the determination of alimony.  The jury’s role in an alimony case is not to determine the amount or duration of alimony payments, but only to establish fault under the alimony statute.

If you asked lawyers who have practiced family law they would say it is not worth the effort, especially since the 1995 amendments to the alimony statute.  They would say this because fault now plays a much smaller role than it used to in North Carolina.

In all my years of practice I have only requested a jury trial in alimony case a few times.  I can see some utility to the jury demand. First, most domestic lawyers are simply not used to jury trials because they happen so rarely in domestic district court. Second, marital fault is an embarrassing subject for most people and the prospect of airing that dirty laundry (on both sides) in front of a court room full of jurors and witnesses is often overwhelming to one or both parties.  Finally, a jury trial would create additional legal costs and scheduling issues that one or both parties likely would want to avoid and increase the chance of settling the claim before trial.