An infidelity in a marriage can be a devastating event. The ripple effects can include separation or even divorce. Children can suffer as collateral damage if tension in the home rises or their parents begin to split custody.
In some cases, you could even have legal recourse against your cheating spouse's lover through an alienation of affection lawsuit. Alienation of affection occurs when a person outside of a marriage interferes with or damages a marriage. North Carolina is one of just seven states that still allows alienation of affection lawsuits.
The burden of proof
Proving an alienation of affection case is challenging. You must prove that you were happily married, and that the defendant (your spouse's lover) damaged your relationship. The North Carolina State Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the marriage must have exhibited prior love and affection. Furthermore, the court declared that the defendant must have acted maliciously to damage the marriage. That can be difficult to prove unless there is verifiable evidence such as timestamped messages where the senders and recipients are identifiable.
Limitations of the law
There are restrictions to when the alienation of affection law applies. The law excludes any transgression occurring during a couple's separation as grounds for a case. There is also a 90-day statute of limitations from the date of the last incident to file a lawsuit. A spouse's lover must be living to have an alienation of affection case brought against them. This protects their family and estate.
Proving an alienation of affection case can pose a challenge but is not impossible. Past successful cases have involved monetary damages awarded to the spouses who are successful. A North Carolina judge awarded a man $8.8 million dollars in damages from his spouse's lover in July of 2018.
An infidelity can have life-altering consequences. While nothing can undo the damage done, there may be a possible action for you to take that can help you rebuild your life.