At Moretz & Skufca, PLLC, our Charlotte alienation of affection lawyers have extensive experience guiding clients through emotionally challenging legal situations. It is important to contact a skilled family law attorney as soon as possible so we can develop an effective case strategy.
The elements of an alienation of affections action are: (1) a marriage with genuine love and affection; (2) the alienation and destruction of the marriage’s love and affection; and (3) a showing that defendant’s wrongful and malicious acts brought about the alienation of such love and affection.
For the first element you must prove that a happy marriage, with genuine love and affection, existed between you and your spouse. Of course, there is no requirement that the marriage was a perfect one, but your spouse must have had “some genuine love and affection for you” before the marriage’s disruption. The second element is proved by showing “interference with one spouse’s mental attitude toward the other, and the conjugal kindness of the marital relation.” Essentially, the third party’s actions caused the breakdown of your marriage. The loss can be full or partial and can be accomplished through one act or a series of acts. For the third element you must prove the defendant’s malicious conduct proximately caused the alienation of the spouse’s love and affection for the plaintiff spouse to support a claim for alienation of affection. However, the third party’s wrongful conduct does not need to be the sole cause of the alienation of affection in order for him or her to be liable, as long as it is the controlling or effective cause, even though there may be other causes which contributed to the alienation.
However, one should be aware of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 52-13 that provides: (a) no act of the defendant shall give rise to a cause of action for alienation of affection that occurs after the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s spouse physically separate with the intent of either the plaintiff or plaintiff’s spouse that the physical separation remain permanent, and (b) an action for alienation of affection shall not be commenced more than three years from the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action.
Charlotte Criminal Conversation Lawyer
Criminal conversation is similar to alienation of affections, but has a higher burden of proof. The elements of a criminal conversation action are: (1) there is an actual marriage between the spouses; and (2) sexual intercourse between the third party and your spouse during the overture. If proven, there is no defense the third party can put forward.
However, again, please be aware of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 52-13 that provides: (a) no act of the defendant shall give rise to a cause of action for criminal conversation that occurs after the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s spouse physically separate with the intent of either the plaintiff or plaintiff’s spouse that the physical separation remain permanent, and (b) an action for criminal conversation shall not be commenced more than three years from the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action.
Damages for alienation of affections and criminal conversation are limited to the present value in money of the support, consortium and other legally protected marital interests lost through the defendant’s actions, including the injury done to health, feelings, or reputation, and mental distress.
Punitive damages may be awarded in an action for alienation of affections where the conduct of the third party was willful, aggravated, malicious or of a wanton character. To establish that you are entitled to punitive damages for alienation of affections, a plaintiff must present evidence of aggravating circumstances in addition to the malice implied by law from the defendant’s conduct in alienating the affections between the spouses, which was necessary to sustain a recovery of compensatory damages. Evidence of sexual relations between your spouse and the third party will allow a plaintiff to present to the jury the issue of punitive damages in a claim for alienation of affections.
Punitive damages may be recovered in an action for criminal conversation where the defendant’s conduct was willful, aggravated, malicious or of a wanton character. Whether you are entitled to punitive damages is a question for the jury. A jury may consider the issue of punitive damages for criminal conversation based solely upon evidence that the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with your spouse, as long as aggravating circumstances are present.