Wife Wins Alienation Of Affections Case
Special Report - September 15, 2010
A Pitt County judge has awarded the second largest judgment ever in an alienation of affections case$5.8 million to the former wife of an adulterous man. The largest award ever came earlier this year when a Guilford County District Court jury awarded $9 million in a similar case. North Carolina is one of seven states Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Utahthat still has the centuries old law against alienation of affections on the books. Alienation of affections establishes liability for a third party who commits wrongful and malicious acts that cause the loss of the love and affection between a married person and their spouse.
In this case, after being married for six years and while expecting their first child, the couple’s friend from Maryland came to visit and began an adulterous relationship with the husband. In 2007, the couple divorced after the wife found out about the affair. In order for an alienation of affections case to be valid, the plaintiff must prove that the couple was happy before the affair, and a break in the marriage was caused by the wrongful and malicious acts of the third party. The large award was based on the wife’s financial loss because of the break up of the marriage.
According to data from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts as reviewed by the legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, an average of 230 alienation of affections cases were filed each year in North Carolina between 2000 and 2007. That figure represents just over 0.5 percent of the state’s divorces.
An Expensive Affair - March 23, 2010
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