Under a common law tort, cases of alienation of affection, otherwise knowns as heartbalm or homewrecker suits, occur when a spouse is jilted due to the existence of a third party. As such, can you sue for alienation of affection? The answer is yes, you can file a lawsuit against an alienation of affection, depending on where you live.
It is usually the abandoned spouse who files the case against the interloper (third party) for interfering or meddling in a marriage and for causing the loss of affection from the spouse who is having an affair with the third party. Aside from the interloper, anyone who meddles in the affairs of a married couple, like the parents, in-laws, other relatives, members of the church, counselors, and even therapists who suggest divorce to a jilted spouse can also be sued for alienation of affection.
However, suing for interference with marriage has been abolished in most states and is currently applicable in only six states since 2014. These states are Hawaii, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah. Illinois initially had the law but has already been abolished.
Proving the Case of Alienation of Affection
In suing for interference with marriage, you need to prove the following circumstances as provided by Lawyers.com:
– There was a happy and genuine marriage between you and your spouse.
– The love and affection between you and your spouse were estranged and destroyed.
– The malicious and wrongful conduct of the interloper or other third-party defendants had directly caused or contributed to the alienation and loss of love and affection.
– You, as the deserted spouse, were damaged in some way.
Furthermore, a case of alienation of affection does not have to prove that the adulterer had an extramarital sex. The wrongful behavior of the third party, which caused the loss of affection and the end of marriage, is already enough to support the lawsuit.
Damages in an Alienation of Affection Case
What can you sue for alienation of affection? If for instance, your marriage was destroyed because your spouse was having a third party relationship, then you, as the injured spouse, can seek for money damages from the third-party lover based on the loss of consortium, in this case, marital affection and fellowship. Besides that, you can claim money damages based on humiliation, injury to health, mental anguish, and/or loss of support. In some cases, you can request for punitive damages or a monetary fine to punish the defendants for their wrongful behavior.
What is a criminal conversation, and how is this similar to an alienation of affection case? According to HG.org, a criminal conversation is a civil claim for adultery, formally called as seduction. It is closely related to the case of an alienation of affection, but the difference is that you neither have to prove that the defendant did a malicious and wrongful action nor that the adultery affected your marriage.
In a criminal conversation claim, you need to prove that the act of adultery has been committed; that there was an extramarital sex happening between your spouse (adulterer) and his or her lover. This also requires you to present hard evidence, such as photos and video, to support your claim, and such evidence can easily be gathered if you hire a private investigator. Although it varies from state to state, you must be able to present the following circumstances:
– You are legally married to your spouse.
– The extramarital sex happened during your marriage, not after you and your spouse separated.
– The act of adultery happened within a statutory limit of a state.