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When An Alleged Affair Reaches The Courts
Alienation of affections seeks damages against a third party who alienates the affections of one spouse from the other spouse. Criminal conversation seeks damages for the act of sexual intercourse between the spouse and a third party.
The law firm of Scott Law Group, PLLC, has represented spouses on both sides of these lawsuits. We understand the pain that you are feeling, no matter which side you stand on. Our attorneys will represent you during the suit, working toward a favorable outcome for you.
Understanding Alienation Of Affections And Criminal Conversation
Most states have abolished or curtailed alienation of affections and criminal conversation actions. In North Carolina, however, these torts are very much alive.
In a criminal conversation trial, the plaintiff spouse has to prove three things:
- That the innocent spouse is legally married to the adulterous spouse
- That the act(s) of sexual intercourse took place between his or her spouse and a third party
- That the adulterous act(s) took place within the three-year statute of limitations
An action for alienation of affections does not have to be based on acts of adultery. It is based on the acts of a third party, which are intended to destroy a marriage or alienate one spouse’s affections from the other. To be liable for damages, the third party’s wrongful acts must be proven to have caused one spouse to lose affections for the other.
What Are The Defenses To These Torts?
There is only one defense to a charge of criminal conversation — that the innocent spouse consented to or encouraged the adultery before it actually took place.
In alienation of affection cases, the defendant can claim that he or she did not know that the unfaithful spouse was married. The defendant can also raise the defense that their actions were never intended to alienate affections or to end the marriage.
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