If your spouse has committed adultery in North Carolina, let an experienced Winston-Salem family law attorney at LAWSMITH, the Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, explain your rights.
A faithful spouse can’t do anything about adultery in most states – except file for divorce – but in North Carolina, additional legal options are available. In fact, cheating can have costly consequences in this state.
CAN YOU SUE SOMEONE THAT YOUR SPOUSE CHEATED WITH?
North Carolina lets you sue the person that your spouse cheated with for “alienation of affection.” To file a civil lawsuit and seek damages from a third party for alienation of affection, you and your attorney must prove that:
- You and your spouse were not separated and had no agreement to live separately.
- You and your spouse had a happy marriage before the adultery occurred.
- The love between you and your spouse was alienated because of the adultery.
- The alienation would not have occurred but for the actions of the person, you are suing.
With an alienation of affection lawsuit, you may recover monetary damages for emotional pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and in some cases, for the loss of your spouse’s income and support. Punitive damages are also awarded in some alienation of affection cases.
It’s important to note that the person your spouse cheated with is not the only party that can be named in an alienation of affection claim. Other persons that interfered with your marriage, such as your spouse’s siblings or parents, can also be included in an alienation of affection claim.
WHAT IS “CRIMINAL CONVERSATION” IN NORTH CAROLINA?
Like alienation of affection, a claim for criminal conversation arising from adultery may be filed against the adulterous third party. (“Conversation” is an old euphemism for sexual intercourse; the term is used now only in law). To file a claim for criminal conversation, you must prove that:
- You and your spouse were married.
- While married, your spouse had sexual intercourse with the person you are suing.
If you are targeted by a criminal conversation claim, the only defenses allowed are that the plaintiff and his or her spouse were separated when the adultery occurred or that the plaintiff consented to the adultery.
WHAT CAN YOU WIN WITH THESE KINDS OF LAWSUITS?
Like an alienation of affection claim, a claim for criminal conversation may seek damages for emotional pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. Punitive damages may also be awarded in some cases.
North Carolina has established a statute of limitations for alienation of affection and criminal conversation claims. You must take action within three years of the date of an adultery incident, or you will not be allowed to file an alienation of affection or a criminal conversation lawsuit.
CAN THESE KINDS OF LAWSUITS AFFECT A DIVORCE PROCEEDING?
If you are divorcing, sometimes the mere threat of a civil action against a spouse’s new partner can provide leverage in divorce negotiations. To avoid a lawsuit, your spouse may be more accommodating on issues like child support and the division of property and debts.
An experienced Winston-Salem family law attorney at LAWSMITH, the Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, can advise you about the alienation of affection, criminal conversation, and how filing a lawsuit can affect your divorce – perhaps to your benefit.
HOW CAN YOU LEARN MORE?
To learn more about divorce, alienation of affection, or criminal conversation, call LAWSMITH at 336-306-8644 or complete the contact form here on our website – right now.
For the convenience of our clients, we have offices in both Winston-Salem and in Greensboro. Let an experienced family law attorney fight for the justice you deserve.