Divorce is tough but it is even harder if your separation is caused by a person who alienates the love and affection of your spouse. North Carolina is one of the few states that allows an innocent spouse to seek damages from a third party for Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation actions. Both actions seek to recover damages for you for the bad behavior by another which harms or destroys your marriage.
What is Alienation of Affection?
Alienation of Affection is an action you can assert when another person alienates or diminishes the love and affection from your spouse from you. You must show that you have a valid marriage, that some love and affection exists in the marriage, that the love and affection was diminished or destroyed by a third party (lover) who intentionally and wrongfully acted in a manner to diminish or destroy the love and affection. Also, you must show that the third-party was a controlling cause of the diminishment or destruction of the love and affection of your spouse for you. This claim may be asserted or filed three years from the date of the last act by the third-party in alienating your spouse’s affections. This claim is also filed against the third-party or the person who you believe stole your spouse’s affections and destroyed your marriage.
What is Criminal Conversation?
Criminal Conversation is often filed with a claim for alienation of affection. Criminal conversation is about sex. Criminal conversation alleges that the third-party had sex with your spouse during the marriage. You have to show that a valid marriage exists and that this third-party had sex with your spouse during the marriage. Circumstantial evidence of sexual intercourse suffices. This claim is also filed against the bad actor third-party and has a three-year statute of limitations.
What Award is Granted if Successful?
Historically, there have been some large monetary awards for individuals filing claims for alienation of affection and criminal conversation. In 2018 an innocent spouse was awarded $8.8 million dollars. In 2011 a Wake County court awarded $30 million dollars to another innocent spouse. The award of damages from alienation of affection and criminal conversation lawsuits can be substantial, but that only benefits an injured spouse if the third party has assets that might pay such a hefty award. An experienced attorney can help you analyze the details and determine if there is a cost-benefit in seeking these claims. However, seeking a large monetary settlement is not the only reason innocent spouses file claims for alienation and/or criminal conversation. Sometimes filing, or even the threat of filing, these claims can help negotiate a more favorable settlement in a pending divorce action.
If you believe that you have a claim, or if you need to defend against an action for Alienation of Affection or Criminal Conversation it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney, especially if you are involved in a divorce. These claims may impact your case. An experienced family law trial lawyer can provide advice and guidance to best protect your interests.
Daphne Edwards and her family law team can help you navigate through all your family law issues, including alienation of affection and criminal conversation claims. Focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters for more than two decades, Daphne is a formidable opponent, a shrewd negotiator, and a successful, aggressive trial lawyer. She and her team handle complex divorce matters, including custody, property settlement, and alimony. She provides comprehensive and individualized guidance throughout the Research Triangle. If you have questions or need a skilled attorney to assist you in your family law matter, contact Daphne Edwards Family Law at (919) 823-5505 for a consultation.