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Practice Areas - Alienation of Affection

What is Alienation of Affection?

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Practice Areas

Alienation of Affection

Separation is difficult and knowing that another person may have caused that separation is heartbreaking. Alienation of affection is a claim against a person who interfered with your marriage and stole the affection of your spouse from you. If you were in a loving and affectionate marriage and someone has maliciously interfered with the intent of breaking up your marriage, you might have a claim for alienation of affection.  

A malicious act has been defined as any intentional conduct that negatively affects the marital relationship. Malice can be proved by showing that the person engaged in sexual intercourse with your spouse. However, sexual intercourse does not have to be proven to win the case. 

Six states allow alienation of affection claims. North Carolina is one of them, along with New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Hawaii, and Mississippi.

Who can you sue for Alienation of Affection?

In an alienation of affection case, a person sues the third party that destroyed the marriage. It is not a law suit against the other spouse. In order for a person to win an alienation of affection case, the spouse bringing the law suit must prove that the breakdown of the marriage was caused by the third party.

This third party could be a lover, friend, or family member that is directly involved in interfering with the marriage. The third party must maliciously intend to destroy the marriage; their malicious intent to destroy the marriage  needs to be proven.

How can an Alienation of Affection Claim be defended?

The status of your marriage and the causes of its deterioration directly affect your chances of a successful claim. If you and your spouse are separated, it is fair for the court to assume that there was trouble in the marriage before the third party got involved. The basis of an alienation of affection claim is that the spouses were happily married before the third party got involved to willingly lure one spouse from the other.

A person who is being sued for Alienation of Affection can defend the case by proving that the spouses were not happy together and that the separation would have occurred regardless of the third party’s involvement.

What type of Compensation can you expect for an Alienation of Affection claim?

Your losses from the divorce – assets or property you shared with your spouse – cannot be recovered with an alienation of affection claim. As you are suing a third party and not your spouse, you cannot use this claim to get your old house or car back. Your claim is limited to the assets and finances of the third party.

Should you pursue an Alienation of Affection claim?

Alienated spouses have been awarded significant amounts of money in Alienation of Affection cases. Sometimes it is effective to bring an Alienation of Affection claim against a third party at the same time that you are negotiating or litigating with your spouse regarding alimony and/or equitable distribution.

If you think you might have a claim for alienation of affection, contact us for a consultation. We can help guide you in deciding whether you should pursue an alienation of affection claim in North Carolina.

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