The term alienation of affection isn’t well understood by non-specialists. However, it is one of the recurring themes in many family law cases. Unfortunately, most times, someone has to find out the hard way that their other spouse is having an affair. While some marriages withstand extra-marital affairs, some don’t survive it, and it ends in divorce. Apart from an affair’s effect on family law cases, it sometimes provides a cause of action against a third party.
These claims are referred to as alienation of affection. There are also times when it is called criminal conversation and collectively known as heart-balm torts. If you want to find out what alienation of affection is, if you can sue, and the process of suing, keep reading.
What Is Alienation of Affection?
Alienation of affection usually means a third party is responsible for the end of a legal marriage. It involves proving that a third party is responsible for your partner withholding love and affection from you. If you begin to suspect your spouse withholding love from you because of a third party in the picture, you can sue this third party for alienation of affection. This is civil litigation and is quite similar to a personal injury claim.
When there’s this situation, you usually don’t have to prove that your spouse had sex with a third party. The main element of the case is that the third party’s conduct led to the alienation of affection. Although this is a case against lost love, it doesn’t mean that the third party is the erring spouse’s lover. You can make a claim against therapists, family members, clergy members, or anyone else you feel advised your spouse to end the marriage.
Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation
Criminal conversation is when a person has sex with someone else’s spouse. Although the word ‘criminal’ appears, it is still a civil claim, and damages are paid in funds. The act of sexual intercourse only needs to take place once before you can make a claim. Typically, a criminal conversation claim usually happens in line with the alienation of affection. The damages from this conduct come mostly from the alienated affections of the cheating partner.
In a criminal conversation case, the defendant won’t face criminal penalties or jail time. However, it requires solid proof before you can get a settlement. Most times, the evidence is obtained by a private investigator who provides videotapes and photographs of the affair. After that, you can get monetary damages based on several reasons like humiliation, mental anguish, or even the loss of support.
To prove criminal conversation, you must show the existence of a legal marriage. In addition, you need to prove that your spouse had sex with a third party. Note that the sexual intercourse must have taken place during the marriage and not after separation. It also needs to happen within the state’s statute of limitations. In North Carolina, the lawsuit should not commence later than three years after the act.
How to Prove Alienation of Affection
You can always sue if you’re in a state that recognizes the legal claim of alienation of affection and criminal conversation. Most states have abolished the claims, but North Carolina still recognizes them. Therefore, Charlotte residents can seek the assistance of a family law attorney to file an alienation of affection claim. To claim alienation of affection, you have to prove the following.
- You and your spouse shared a legal marriage with love and affection.
- The third party is directly responsible for causing the alienation of affection from your spouse.
- You can prove that the love and affection from your spouse were present before the alienation took place.
- The situation took place before the separation from your spouse happened.
- The alienation of affection caused you physical or emotional distress, which requires compensation from the third party.
Let Charlotte Family Law Attorneys at Waple & Houk Help You!
Alienation of affection lawsuits is popular when one spouse’s extra-marital affair leads to the end of the marriage. It also occurs in marriages where one spouse believes a third manipulated their partner into alienating their affection. Waple & Houk’s family law attorneys represent clients who want to pursue claims for alienation of affection or criminal conversation.
Our professional Charlotte family law attorneys also represent clients who have alienation of affection lawsuits against them. There are effective defenses that you can raise to avoid paying compensation. However, there’s a need for a timely response to aid your defense. So book an initial consultation today to begin the process of your alienation of affection claim.