Remington & Dixon has seen third parties disrupt marriages and lead to divorces. Perhaps your situation has been affected by alienation of affection. What does that mean exactly? We’ll explain.
What is North Carolina’s Alienation of Affection Law?
An alienation of affection law typically allows a spouse plaintiff to sue a third-party defendant because they played a part that led to a lack of affection in their marital relationship or dissolution of marriage.
For instance, you can file an alienation of affection lawsuit if your spouse had an affair that led to divorce or resentment in your marriage. The law is active and often practiced in North Carolina.
Alienation of affection lawsuit defendants can include extramarital romantic partners (known as the paramour), clergy members, counselors, or any third party involved in advising and aiding the other spouse seeking a divorce.
States That Support Alienation of Affection Laws
Only a few states recognize the alienation of affection law. So far, a vast majority of states have abolished the law due to the dwindling frequency of lawsuits and fostering resentment.
However, seven states still recognize the law. They include:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
Ironically, the neighboring South Carolina state doesn’t recognize lawsuits regarding the alienation of affection law. The law was abolished in 1992 through voting in the South Carolina Supreme Court. Nonetheless, South Carolina courts recognize adultery as grounds for alimony claims or divorce.
How to Strengthen Your Alienation of Affection Claim
The alienation of affection lawsuit has many loopholes that the defendant can use against you. As the plaintiff, you should be able to strengthen your claims through the following elements:
- Prove that you were genuinely in love with your spouse during your marriage.
- Prove the intentional actions of the third party destroyed the once blissful marriage through selfish behavior.
- Prove the selfish behavior that led to the loss of affection or divorce that occurred while you were still married and not yet separated.
- Prove the alienation negatively affected you. For instance, it led to the loss of jobs, depression, divorce, etc.
- Prove that your spouse moved in with the other person before or immediately after you separated, when applicable.
How To Prove You Had Genuine Affection with Your Spouse
For the judgment to work in your favor, you must provide enough evidence in the lawsuit. Sexual relations outside of marriage alone can’t win the case. You’ll have a strong case against the defendant if you can prove and provide the following:
- The photos and videos that you and your spouse took together (during your wedding, dates, excursions, parties, and family gatherings) will be a piece of solid evidence of your happy marriage.
- Behavior changes; for example, if your partner used to take you out on dates and surprise you with flowers and gifts but suddenly stopped because of third-party interference. Your close friends and family members can testify whether they knew about your marital relationship before it went south.
The third-party may be well prepared with a strong defense. However, don’t be content with the evidence at hand. Let’s jump in and check what the defendant can use to argue and weaken the case.
Arguments that the defendant can use against you
It’s always good to be aware of the defenses the third party might develop against your alienation of affection case. Strong arguments and evidence can give the defendant the advantage when proven in court. They can include:
- Post-separation affair: If your spouse had an affair after you separated, the defense could argue that the defendant acted out of loneliness because you were living separately.
- Lack of affection: The defendant can argue that there was no affection and love in the marriage. It can further be supported by previous separations, constant fights, quarreling, and adulterous affairs.
- Lack of knowledge: The defendant might argue that they were unaware the other person was married at the time they had an affair. It might seem like a weak argument, but it’s valid and can work against your case.
- Consent: This argument comes into play if you practice spouse swapping in your marriage. It clearly shows that the plaintiff openly consented to the adulterous affair between the third party and your spouse.
Is It Hard to Prove Alienation of Affection?
The whole process consumes time and ignites resentful, stressful emotions. Proving the alienation of affection case is an undertaking we are willing to help with.
Our dedicated team at Remington & Dixon PLLC provides professional family law consultations and advice and can build a strong alienation of affection lawsuit against a defendant. Contact our attorneys today.
FAQs About Alienation of Affection Laws In North Carolina
What happens if I’m successful in my claim of alienation of affection?
What if the defendant has no money to pay for compensatory damages?
Who can file an alienation of affection lawsuit in North Carolina?
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.