What former spouses should know about alienation of affection

While many people in the United States may wish they could take a person to court for having an affair with a spouse, in North Carolina, it is legal.

A former spouse can take a homewrecker to court for alienation of affection.

What is alienation of affection?

According to WFMY News, the term does not just apply to circumstances involving someone having an affair with a spouse. It could apply to any situation where someone interferes with the loving relationship and destroys the marriage. A mother-in-law or business partner could also fit the bill. Most often, though, people sue someone who was involved sexually with their ex-spouse.

Is it worthwhile to sue?

Civil court cases are public matters, and this type of litigation is rare enough that it may gather attention. A person may want to consider carefully whether it is worth drawing attention to the claim that the spouse had an affair or was otherwise suggestible enough to be diverted from the relationship. Litigation can be expensive, and alienation of affection cases are often appealed.

On the other hand, one of the motivations for breaking up a relationship may be money, and money can also be a strong motivation to sue, although some are merely seeking justice. Still, there have been some significant awards in these cases. According to The News & Observer, $30 million may be the largest amount awarded by a judge in an alienation of affection case. Other cases have also ended in multimillion-dollar verdicts, but some past appeal outcomes have seen the amounts reduced significantly.