If you have been in a relationship, chances are that you have at least thought about whether your partner was cheating, or what you would do if you discovered that he or she was having an affair. For the majority of people, when their romantic partner has slipped, it’s the emotional unfaithfulness that hurts most. When marriage is involved, it becomes even more complicated – and expensive.
Today, more couples are divorce-minded even as they tie the knot, often discussing and drafting prenuptial agreements. It may seem jaded, but it’s also realistic to plan for the unknown future when the divorce rate is hovering at around 40 percent, and a primary reason for divorce is cheating:
- Up to 40 percent of divorces are filed based on infidelity
- 45-50 percent of married women cheat on their spouse
- 50-60 percent of married men cheat on their spouse
The betrayal doesn’t always end with your husband or wife, however. In North Carolina there are two potential claims that you have an option of filing against the other man or woman involved with your spouse.
Alienation of affection and criminal conversation
North Carolina is one of a handful of states in the country that still has laws on the books allowing you to sue your spouse’s other romantic partner for interfering with your marriage, or for helping to cause your divorce. NCGS § 52-13 provides for making tort claims of alienation of affection and criminal conversation against a paramour for personally wronging you.
When adultery occurs resulting in divorce, a claim for alienation of affection exists. This is not the only situation that can give rise to this claim, however. While extramarital affairs are the primary cause for alienation of affection claims, you have a right to sue any individual who has taken away the affection and love that you were receiving from your spouse. It could even be a child from a prior relationship, or former spouse, who is interfering in your marriage and taking away the love, affection and companionship that marriage provides.
Aptly called “criminal conversation,” in North Carolina you can also file a legal action against someone who has had sex with your husband or wife, causing you to lose your spouse’s affection. Under this action, no divorce is required, but you do need to be able to prove that the sexual relationship occurred. Sometimes all that is required is proving that there was an opportunity to engage in sexual conduct, and the inclination to have sex existed between your spouse and the third-party.
Successful alienation of affection claims can result in substantial awards to the victim as a Pitt County man recently discovered when he won $750,000 after suing his ex-friend for stealing his wife of 12 years. In 2018, a Durham judge awarded another man $8.8 million dollars based on alienation of affection and criminal conversation when a man carried on an affair with his now ex-wife for a year.
Whether you file an action for alienation of affection or criminal conversation, the lawsuit must be filed within 3 years from the date of the last act of the defendant-paramour that gave rise to the claim. Neither claim may be filed if the relationship began after you already separated.
Whether you divorce or attempt to work things out, no one should feel that he or she has the right to interfere with your marriage. You have legal options for taking action in both cases.
The knowledgeable attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC are here to help you through your most difficult times while ending your marriage. We know that it is a difficult process to go through and that maintaining your dignity while fighting for a fair settlement is a priority for our clients in the Charlotte, Boone and Weddington areas. If you or a loved one is considering divorce, or you want to pursue a claim against your spouse’s paramour for alienation of affection, speak with one of our compassionate divorce attorneys by calling 704-321-0031 or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.