Alienation of Affection
North Carolina Alienation of Affection Attorneys
Alienation of Affection is a tort action, similar to a personal injury case, based on the willful and malicious interference with marriage relations by a third party. Alienation of Affection actions are often brought at the same time, or in conjunction with, Criminal Conversation actions as oftentimes the facts of the case include both the elements of alienation of affection and criminal conversation.
Are you the victim of alienation of affection by someone else?
If your spouse was having an intimate relationship with another person prior to your separation, or if you suspect someone convinced your spouse to unjustly leave your marriage, it is important that you contact an experienced lawyer and obtain sound legal advice regarding your rights and your options. Your attorney can advise you of the best course of action including filing a claim for alienation of affection, waiving your rights to sue the third party, or handling the matter out of Court through settlement. Before waiving your rights to sue for alienation of affection, it is very important that you understand your rights and options prior to waiving any such claims.
If you have evidence indicating these alienating actions occurred, ensure that you put that evidence in a safe place so that these items do not disappear before you have a chance to contact an lawyer and show them your evidence. In some cases it may also be necessary to hire a private investigator to obtain additional evidence or to find evidence that the Court deems “unbiased” since the evidence was obtained by a professional investigator. The attorneys at the McNeil Law Firm have good working relationships with many private investigators who are trained and have considerable experience in finding the evidence necessary to prove alienation of affection.
The elements of the tort of Alienation of Affection are:
- the parties to the marriage were happily married and genuine love and affection existed between them;
- such love and affection was alienated and destroyed; and
- the wrongful and malicious acts of the person being sued brought about the loss and alienation of such love and affection.
The exclusive right of sexual intercourse is not the right protected in this type of case. The actual affection between spouses is the right that is protected within the marriage. In fact, in-laws, therapists, clergy and religious organizations have been sued for Alienation of Affection, however the validity and success of these specific suits is questionable.
Alienation of Affection Awards Can Be Substantial
North Carolina juries have handed out large awards in Alienation of Affection cases. In 2001, a Greensboro jury awarded $2 million. Another jury awarded $1.2 million in 1997 in a Forsyth County case. Other awards include $1 million to an Alamance County woman, $243,000 to a Wake County man, and $40,000 to a Durham County man whose wife allegedly ran off with another man.
Alienation of Affection Laws Are Different in Other States
Most States and the District of Columbia have abolished alienation of affection claims either by legislation or by court ruling. The States in which the tort of alienation of affection are still recognized are Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.
In the past few years, various bills to eliminate the current laws regarding Alienation of Affection have been introduced in the North Carolina legislature and were defeated. Some legislators and lobby groups say these torts are outdated because they are based on ancient property law. Additionally, there are legitimate concerns that these torts are abused in domestic cases to obtain settlements that would not otherwise be possible in the domestic court setting. Other legislators and lobby groups say the statutes help preserve the family and help put a value on a marriage and the damage caused by third party interference.
Are You Being Sued For Alienation of Affection?
If you are involved with someone whom you know is married, or suspect you are involved with someone who is married, or if you are being sued for alienation of affection, it is important to hire an experienced attorney to give you sound legal advice and represent you. If you are separated or are anticipating a separation from your spouse, it is possible for your attorney to draft documents that will protect you, or any actual or potential romantic interest, from being sued for alienation of affection by your spouse. Such agreements must be agreed to and signed by your spouse, so it is important to find a lawyer who understands the law, has experience representing clients in alienation of affection cases and can draft and negotiate these agreements for you. This type of agreement is usually contained in a Separation Agreement, but can also be included in other interim agreements if the parties need additional time to resolve other issues related to the marriage.
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PLEASE NOTE: The preceding information is based on NORTH CAROLINA law. If you do not live in North Carolina, please contact an attorney in your home state regarding whether or not your State has similar laws. There are a few situations in which an act occurring in North Carolina would permit an out-of-state spouse to make a claim for alienation of affection in North Carolina and if that is the case, you should contact one of our attorneys and also an attorney in the State of your residence.
This website contains general information about common family law and criminal law matters in North Carolina. However, please remember that every criminal, traffic, divorce or family law case is different. Websites are no substitute for genuine legal advice from an attorney and the information here may not apply to your specific case.
Written By: John McNeil