Understanding alienation of affection

Family Law
Understanding alienation of affection

When a couple decides to divorce, it can be difficult in even the best circumstances. Sometimes, it is exceptionally hard if one spouse believes a third party has interfered with the marriage. In these situations, they may not be aware that they have an option to pursue a claim for alienation of affection against the third party.

Filing for divorce

First, it’s good to know about the process of filing for divorce in North Carolina. A Complaint for Divorce is filed with the Clerk of Superior Court and is generally filed in the county where either party resides, provided that at least one party must have resided in North Carolina for at least six months prior to the filing of the action.  The Complaint states the legal grounds for the divorce (most commonly one year’s separation) and may include claims for other  issues that need to be addressed, such as alimony, child custody, child support and equitable distribution (division of property).  It is important to note that claims for equitable distribution must either be resolved or pending before the court prior to the entry of a Judgment of Divorce, or those claims are barred.

The alienation of affection claim is a separate legal action from the divorce.

Alienation of affection

Alienation of affection laws allow one spouse to sue for damages. These cases occur after the marriage ends and are based on harm to the spouse’s reputation. Alienation of affection means that there has been a loss or alienation of genuine love and affection which existed during the marriage prior to the interference by the third party.

In order to bring a successful action for alienation of affection, the spouse must prove several elements. They must demonstrate that there was genuine love in the marriage, the love was alienated and the defendant caused or contributed to the loss of affection or love.

While these cases are often pursued against a person with whom the spouse had an affair, a spouse can also bring a claim against a party who advised the spouse to seek a divorce.

If a person would like more information about filing a claim for alienation of affection or guidance about divorce, an experienced attorney can help.