A Common Personal Injury Case You Didn’t Know Existed – Alienation of Affection

If you find out your husband or wife cheated on you, alienation of affection is a type of case you can file against the lover of your spouse. These lawsuits are known as “heart balm torts” as they are intended to lessen and soothe the emotional anguish of a failed marriage.

To know more about the alienation of affection, let us check out What’s “Alienation of Affection?” by Lawyers.com. Here’s an excerpt:

“Alienation of affection lawsuits (also known as “homewrecker” or “heartbalm” lawsuits), are civil tort claims. As its monikers suggest, an alienation of affection case is brought by a spouse who’s been deserted as a result of a third party’s actions. The deserted spouse files the lawsuit against the third party for the loss of affection that was provided through the marriage.

Alienation of affection lawsuits are usually filed against third-party lovers, but anyone that interfered with a marriage can be named as a defendant, such as parents, in laws, clergy members, and even therapists who recommended divorce to a deserting spouse.

Almost all states have abolished these types of cases, but the following seven states still allow homewrecker lawsuits; Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah.”

Alienation of Affection

Dignitary torts can be differentiated from other intentional torts as they result in harm to the reputation or dignity an individual rather than resulting in physical injury. One common example of a dignitary tort is the alienation of affection as the injury suffered isn’t a physical one, but instead the alienation or loss of love or affection in a marriage.

A deserted spouse can file an alienation of affection cases against a third party that the plaintiff thinks is liable for the failure of the marriage. While this form of tort has been ended in the majority of jurisdictions, there are still a few states that permit alienation of affection cases to be filed.

Alienation of Affection: Proving a Claim

At present, an alienation of affection tort is available in the following states: Mississippi, Hawaii, New Mexico, South Dakota, North Carolina, and Utah. Though the elements required to establish your case will vary according to the laws of every state, the victim generally should establish the following elements:

  • There was actual love in the marriage
  • That love was destroyed and alienated
  • The defendant contributed to or caused the loss of the affection or love.

Usually, these forms of claims are brought against the liable spouse’s lover. On the other hand, it is crucial to note that evidence of illicit sexual conduct is usually not necessary to win an alienation of affection case. Furthermore, there have been cases wherein an alienation of affection defendant has been a counselor, therapist, or clergy member who directed a spouse to file a divorce.

Now that we’ve discussed the definition of alienation of affliction as well as the states that still apply this law, let us now proceed to the various rules governing the law. Here’s Alienation of Affection by FindLaw to give us an overview:

“Proving an Alienation of Affection Claim

  • There was love in the marriage;
  • That love was alienated and destroyed; and
  • The defendant caused or contributed to the loss of the love/affection.

Typically, these types of suits are filed against the lover with whom the spouse had an affair. However, it’s important to note that proof of extramarital sexual conduct is generally not required to succeed in an alienation of affection claim.

Defenses to an Alienation of Affection Lawsuit

There are a few defenses available to a defendant in an alienation of affection lawsuit. The plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the defendant had the intention of destroying the marriage, but rather that he or she intentionally acted in a way that would foreseeably impact the marriage.

Considering this requirement, it’s a valid defense if the defendant didn’t know that the person was married. It’s also a possible defense if the defendant can provide evidence that the cheating spouse aggressively seduced the defendant. Since intentional acts or conduct by the defendant are a requirement of such a claim to succeed, another possible defense is that the defendant’s actions were inadvertent. Finally, if a defendant can show that the love in the marriage was already lost before his or her acts, this can also serve as a defense.”

Alienation of Affection Case Defenses

There are some defenses offered to a defendant in such a lawsuit. The plaintiff does not need to establish that the defendant intended to destroy the marriage, but instead that the defendant deliberately behaved in a manner that would certainly affect the marriage.

Bearing this requirement in mind, it is a legal defense if the defendant did not know that the individual was married. Moreover, it’s a probable defense if the defendant can present proof that the deceitful spouse seduced the defendant aggressively.

Because intentional conduct or acts by the defendant are required of such a case to win, another probable defense is that the actions of the defendant were unintentional. Lastly, if a defendant can establish that the marriage’s love was already lost prior to the defendant’s acts, then this can serve as a defense as well.

Get Legal Help

When you or somebody you know is harmed, it is natural to search for somebody to blame, and there are moments when a certain person could be the reason for the injury that underwent. Under the United States civil laws, you could recover for damages you’ve suffered due to another individual’s negligent or intentional actions.

If you want to learn more regarding the alienation of affection tort or have queries about other forms of torts, then you may have to contact a skilled personal injury lawyer in your region.

To check out more about alienation of affliction, just click on the articles provided above.