If you learn that your spouse is having an affair, one of the first thoughts that may cross your mind is revenge. Naturally, you will want to get back at the woman or man that robbed you of your spouse and decimated your trust in him or her. In some states, those that suffer as the victim of an affair can sue their spouse's lover for compensation under a law known as "alienation of affection."
The concept of alienation of affection is based on the view of marriage as a contract. According to the courts that honor this practice, marriage is a binding legal contract. Those that break that legal contract can be sued for doing so. So this means if your husband's secretary gets too close, if your wife's personal trainer becomes too friendly, there may be grounds for a lawsuit based on breaking a legal contract.
In alienation of affection lawsuits, adultery is not the crime. The crime is the actions that interfered with your marital relationship. In order to prove that a spouse's lover is liable to pay in a lawsuit of this nature, the plaintiff is required to prove:
- The marriage was happy prior to intervention by the defendant
- The third party is responsible for destroying the marriage
- The third party's intentions were to destroy the marriage
Unfortunately, California does not recognize alienation of affection lawsuits. Currently, only Hawaii, Illinois, Utah, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and South Dakota honor these types of marriages. This means in California, you cannot sue your spouse's lover for compensation after terminating the marriage. Still, while not explicitly stated in California law, proving that your spouse did conduct an affair may be of a benefit to you when it comes to deciding spousal support and child custody. Don't hesitate to contact the firm today if you want to learn more!