What is Alienation of Affection?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Does adultery affect who gets custody?”


Being hurt by the one you love is devastating, especially when it is in the form of an extra-marital affair. If your spouse has had an affair during your marriage, he or she is not the only one at fault. There is a third party that is also involved in the situation. North Carolina is one of the six states that will prosecute another person for alienation of affection. Alienation of affection is a tort action against the third party who has engaged in the affair with your spouse. Essentially, you are suing the third party for depriving you of the love and affection of your spouse.


fingers-crossed-Charlotte-Alienation-of-affection-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Mooresville-Family-Law-Attorney-300x169This might seem like an outlandish charge, and you might be thinking that there is no way these tort actions are actually being brought to court. That thought is wrong. Recently, a North Carolina judge awarded the spouse who was cheated on $8.8 million. Keith King is a BMX bike show personality. King’s marriage fell apart after it was discovered his wife was having an affair. Through an alienation of affection action, the court found that the man who was having an affair with King’s wife must pay $8.8 million. King claimed the man seduced his wife, which caused the affair and ultimately destroyed his marriage, according to The News Observer.


Not every person who has had their spouse engage in an extramarital affair is going to receive millions in compensation. Regardless, alienation of affection is a real charge in North Carolina and it is important to know the requirements and restrictions in the event you wish to pursue an alienation of affection case. To be successful in an alienation of affection case, there are essentially five elements that must be proven:


  • There was a valid marriage between you and another. That marriage needs to have been filled with love and affection;
  • The love and affection that were shared between you and your spouse was destroyed;
  • The third party whom you are suing is the cause of the destruction of marriage through a wrongful act;
  • The wrongful behavior or act must have occurred prior to any separation between you and your spouse; and
  • You suffered damages as a result of the alienation.


There is also a time limit on bringing an alienation of affection case. A person only has three years to sue a third party for alienation of affection. The three-year limitation is calculated from the “last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action.” Essentially, the three years begins from the last date of the affair before any separation of you and your spouse.


If you are considering an alienation of affection cause of action, you need a dedicated and experienced family law attorney. The family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help you. An alienation of affection case is often filled with emotional hardship and stress. Let our family law attorneys ease the struggles of the case by answering your questions. Contact us today to find out more and get your divorce questions answered. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.







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