A recent story broke putting ‘alienation of affection’ back at the top of Google’s search list. On July 26, 2018, a jury awarded Durham, North Carolina resident Keith King $8.8 million in damages. The bill belongs to Francisco Huizar III, who was found responsible for ruining King’s marriage.
An affair between King’s wife and Huizar sent King’s personal and business life into a downward spiral. As owner of BMX Stunt Shows, King was able to prove that by because of the affair, his business lost revenue and an employee. King used text messages, Facebook posts, phone records, and hotel receipts to prove the damages.
In North Carolina, you may sue the individual who has caused your marriage to suffer if the marriage was loving and intact at the time of the affair. To do so and establish a claim for alienation of affection, you must be able to prove that 1) you and your spouse were married and genuine love existed between you, 2) the love and affection was alienated/destroyed, and 3) the wrongful and malicious (presumed if there is sexual intercourse) acts of the defendant produced the alienation. In other words, you may have a claim if you can prove that the person you are suing actively participated, initiated or encouraged the affair that resulted in a loss of affection.
Alienation cases are still provable, even if no affair took place or sexual contact was made. It is possible that the third-party “alienator” is a relative or close friend. If you can prove that person played an active role in the loss of affection between you and your spouse (with malicious intent), an alienation of affection claim could stand in court. Some states informally refer to this claim as the “mother-in-lawsuit”.
When you can prove sexual intercourse outside the marriage, this is called criminal conversation. To file a suit, you must prove, 1) an actual marriage existed between you and your spouse and 2) sexual intercourse between your spouse and a third party occurred during the marriage. In some of these cases, the defendant may claim you were already separated when the affair occurred, which is why it’s essential to know your date of separation.
Unlike alienation of affection, you don’t have to prove genuine love and happiness before the affair, making the criminal conversation claim a bit easier to win. Like most cases, these lawsuits have a statute of limitations, or a time limit, on when you can file. If you fail to initiate your claim within three years, it will be lost.
At Marcellino & Tyson, we understand that matters of family and domestic law, including alienation of affection and criminal conversation cases, are personal and emotional. Family law issues can affect not only you, but also those around you, including your children. Our commitment is to make your life better with every interaction. Beginning with your first consultation, we want to make you feel at ease while providing you with professional and proactive representation in many areas of family law, to help protect what’s yours.
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