Laws That Protect NC Marriages Diminish
Special Report - October 9, 2009
Last week, a new law went into effect that significantly weakens two different, centuries-old, North Carolina civil actions, or torts, that are designed to protect marriages from third party interference and/or adultery. HB 1110Clarify/Alienation of Affection/Criminal Conversation, which was enacted by the General Assembly this summer, limits the ability of spouses to sue a third party who interferes with a marriage under the state’s alienation of affections and criminal conversation laws. Under alienation of affections, an aggrieved spouse can sue a third party whose wrongful and malicious acts alienate the love and affection of their spouse. Under criminal conversation, an aggrieved spouse can sue a third party who commits adultery with their husband or wife. Under the new law, which took effect October 1, these legal actions can only be based on acts that occur prior to the separation of the married couple.
Over the years, numerous North Carolina courts have awarded damages in alienation of affections/criminal conversation lawsuits. An average of 245 lawsuits were filed each year on this issue between 2000 and 2005, according to the Greensboro News and Record. The North Carolina Family Policy Council (NCFPC) has worked for many years to preserve these torts and has resisted the efforts to abolish them.
“These laws create a protective buffer around marriages and establish liability if a third party interferes in someone else’s marriage or commits adultery with someone’s husband or wife,” said Jere Royall, counsel for the NCFPC. “Our state should do all it can to protect, preserve and strengthen marriages. Limiting these torts exposes marriages to interference and adultery, and partially eliminates the legal consequences for a wrongdoing third party.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.