Alienation Of Affection And Criminal Conversation

North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that allow a spouse to file a civil suit for alienation of affection and/or criminal conversation in the event of an extramarital affair or activity involving another person, if divorce resulted.

If you are considering filing for divorce because of your spouse's infidelity or extramarital activities that impacted your relationship, you have the right to sue for additional damages as part of the property settlement. Talk to a family law lawyer at Coggin Law, PLLC, in Charlotte about your legal options.

Suing For Damages For Alienation Of Affection

In an alienation of affection claim, a plaintiff spouse must show:

(1) That the parties were happily married with "genuine" love and affection between them;

(2) That the love and affection between the parties was alienated and destroyed; and

(3) That the loss of love and affection was caused by the "wrongful and malicious" acts of the defendant.

There are virtually no defenses to this cause of action except for a total absence of love and affection. Punitive damages will be allowed under certain circumstances. A defense against an alienation claim may exist if a defendant can show that defendant did not know that the object of his or her affections was in fact married. The parties to the marriage must still be together in order to prove this claim, and thus, the date of separation becomes very important.

Suing For Damages Because Of Criminal Conversation

The statute of limitation for criminal conversation and alienation of affection, pursuant to N.C.G.S. §1-52(5), is three (3) years. The three-year statute of limitation will begin to run on the date that alienation occurred, which is determined by a court on a case-by-case basis.

Criminal conversation is often referred to as a "strict liability tort" because a plaintiff only has to demonstrate that:

(1) There existed a valid marriage between the spouses; and

(2) Evidence of voluntary sexual relations between the defendant and the plaintiff's spouse during the course of the marriage, i.e. adultery.

The only real defense to criminal conversation is that the plaintiff spouse consented to the adultery between the defendant and his/her spouse.

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