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FAQs About Alienation of Affection

by Maurice Moore

Divorce isn't easy, especially if it arises out of adultery. Depending on the laws in your state, you may be able to sue the person who ruined your marriage. Your divorce attorney will tell you whether an alienation of affection lawsuit applies to your case. Here is some basic information about this topic.

What's Alienation of Affection?

Alienation of affection is a lawsuit whereby you don't have to prove the existence of an affair. The main basis of this claim is that a third party's conduct caused alienation. The third party is usually a lover or mistress. However, alienation of affection claims can affect anyone responsible for the breakup of your marriage. This includes therapists, counselors, clergy members, and family members who advised your spouse to end the marriage.

What Do You Need to Prove Alienation of Affection?

To succeed in an alienation of affection claim, your divorce lawyer has to prove that:

  • You and your spouse had a genuinely loving marriage
  • Your love and affection for each other was destroyed
  • The third party's malicious and wrongful conduct led to the alienation of your love and affection
  • You were harmed by the outcome of the defendant's actions

What Damages Can You Get for Alienation of Affection?

If your divorce lawyer succeeds in proving actual damages resulting from the defendant's wrongful conduct, you may be awarded compensatory damages. When determining whether to grant you these damages, the jury will consider:

  • Your loss of companionship, assistance, sexual relationship, and comfort
  • Your humiliation, shame, disgrace, or mental anguish
  • Injury to your feelings, reputation, or health

The jury may consider awarding punitive damages to punish the defendant. The punitive damage award is based on a reasonable sum that will punish the defendant for their wrongful acts and discourage them and others from engaging in similar gregarious acts.

Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation: What's the Difference?

While both alienation of affection and criminal conversation are related, alienation of affection claims can be brought against persons other than your spouse. In the case of a criminal conversation, the subject matter is your spouse. Criminal conversation requires you to present solid evidence that your spouse was involved in sexual relations with a third party. 

Alienation of affection doesn't require proof of sexual relations. To prove criminal conversation, your divorce lawyer must show that you were legally married to your spouse and that the third party had sexual relations with your spouse while you were still married. 

While the legal concepts of alienation of affection and criminal conversation seem outdated, there are a few states that still uphold these laws. Before you get your hopes up, consult services like Evans & Turnblad to determine whether these laws are relevant in your state.