In the simplest terms, alienation of affection involves a wrongful act by a third party that deprives a married person of the affection, love, comfort, and companionship of his or her spouse. This claim protects the spouse’s interest in a peaceful marriage that is not interfered with by third parties.
Who can I sue for alienation of affection?
The defendant in an alienation of affection lawsuit is a third party to the marriage and NOT the other spouse. Typically, alienation of affection involves infidelity or adultery and is often brought against the “paramour”—the spouse’s “lover”. But in reality, the defendant can be a nagging mother-in-law or an unrelated third person. Anyone who interferes with the marriage can be sued for alienation of affection but all the elements have to be met.
What do I need to prove alienation of affection?
There are three things to prove in order to win an alienation of affection lawsuit:
- That you (the plaintiff) and your spouse were happily married and genuine love and affection existed;
- The love and affection was alienated and destroyed; and
- The wrongful and malicious acts of the third-party (the defendant) CAUSED the loss of love and affection.
The standard for the first element is fairly low and thus easy to meet. All one must show is that his or her spouse had “some” genuine love and affection between them. Second, the plaintiff must prove that there is no longer any love or affection left in the marriage. Once again, this element should not be hard to prove. However, the most difficult element, and the element that these lawsuits are usually lost on, is that one must prove that the defendant’s actions caused the loss of love and affection.