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Alienation of Affection

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Definition:

An alienation of affection lawsuit is one in which a spouse can sue a third party if his or her partner leaves the relationship for another person.

To win, an alienation of affection lawsuit needs to prove that:

  • Love between the married spouses must have existed.
  • The marital love must have been alienated and destroyed.
  • The third party's conduct has to be proved to be malicious interference with the marriage relationship.

Most states in the United States have abolished this type of lawsuit as it is considered to be archaic and an unacceptable form of revenge.

Historically, the alienation of affection law was based on the belief that a wife was the property of her husband. Therefore, when a woman was emotionally or sexually involved with another man, she was considered to have been stolen.

Those who want the alienation of affection laws to remain believe that alienation of affection lawsuits protect traditional marriage.

Also Known As:
  • Criminal Conversation
  • Heart Balm Torts
  • Revenge
  • Spousal Theft
Examples:
As of January 2008, the only states in the United States that allow alienation of affection lawsuits are: Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.

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