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Can you sue the other woman for ruining your marriage?

If your spouse left you for another woman, several aspects of your life may now suffer, including your dignity and reputation. In business, you can sue for defamation, so why can you not sue another person for wreaking havoc on your personal life? Well, in North Carolina, you can.

North Carolina is one of the few states that still recognize alienation of affection lawsuits. Per FindLaw, alienation of affection is a nuanced area of the law that allows scorned spouses to sue the “other woman” for punitive damages after the marriage collapses. The law refers to these torts as “dignity torts,” as the triggering events cause harm to a person’s pride and reputation rather than physical injury.

Proving an alienation of affection claim

Proving a claim of alienation of affection is not all that difficult, assuming you and your spouse had a strong marriage before the other woman entered the picture. The N.C. courts ask that you show the following:

  • You and your spouse had love for one another.
  • The love was destroyed or alienated.
  • The defendant caused or contributed to the destruction or alienation of your spouse’s love and affection.

Most people who file these types of suits do so against a person with whom the spouse had a sexual affair. However, you do not need to prove that your spouse had extramarital intercourse or any type of sexual contact with the defendant to succeed in your case.

Criminal conversation

It is not uncommon for persons to end their marriages based off the advice of others. For instance, your spouse’s therapist may have told him or her that you were toxic for his or her health, or a friend may have encouraged him or her to leave you. In these cases, you can sue for criminal conversation that led to the breakup of your marriage.