FAMILY LAW

Alienation of Affections

A separation and subsequent divorce may be caused by the interference or actions of a third party.  In those cases, a lawsuit for Alienation of Affections may be appropriate. This claim has been historically referred to as a “heart balm” tort. In order to pursue a claim for Alienation of Affections, you must prove that there existed a genuine love and affection between you and your spouse prior to your separation or divorce, and that a third party’s wrongful act(s) was a controlling and effective cause of your spouse’s alienation of affection from you. This is an action commenced against the third party (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) — your spouse will then become only a witness to the action (and is not an actual party to the litigation). Alienation of Affection claims are typically coupled with claims for Criminal Conversation and usually heard before a jury (rather than a judge). It may be that you become involved in two lawsuits – one against your spouse for various issues such as custody, child support, post-separation support, alimony, equitable distribution, and divorce, and one against your spouse’s boyfriend or girlfriend for Alienation of Affections and Criminal Conversation.  While they are two independent cases, facts and allegations from each lawsuit may affect the other.

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