North Carolina is a unique state in that it has not abolished alienation of affection, either as a tort or a criminal act. Most states discarded this concept many years ago, but it remains very much alive in North Carolina. Indeed, it is estimated that every year, 200 alienation of affection lawsuits are filed throughout the state. Some of the verdicts are quite large; in 2009, the mistress of a man was required to pay over $9 million in damages to a spouse who had sued; and in 2010, an innocent spouse was awarded $5.9 million.
If a marriage ends as a result of an affair, the innocent spouse can sue the individual with whom their spouse had the affair. However, even an individual who is not having an affair – but who led to the breakup of the marriage – can be sued.
In order to prove an action for alienation of affection, the plaintiff must show first, that the marriage entailed love between the spouses to some degree. Then, the plaintiff must show that the love between the spouses was alienated and destroyed; and they must further show that the defendant’s malicious conduct contributed to or caused the loss of affection. The defendant need not have set out to destroy the relationship; only to have intentionally engaged in acts that could have been foreseen to do so.
Alienation of affection is a very unique tort, and one you should entrust only to an experienced family law attorney. Skilled legal advice from Meek Law Firm. Call (704) 848-6335 to schedule a consultation.
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