What Are Damages for Aiienation of Affection in North Carolina?

Did someone interfere with your marriage?  Did you suffer the loss of affection of your spouse?  What are damages for alienation of affection? If this happened to you in North Carolina, you may be able file suit and recover money damages.

Indeed, verdicts for alienation of affection cases in North Carolina make headlines.  That is because interference in marriage lawsuits can involve striking sums of money.  North Carolina is also one of the few states in the nation that still recognizes the cause of action.  

Marriage is, after all, perhaps the most important institution in human history – NC Court of Appeals – September 2017

Common law “heart-balm” torts are said to protect and preserve the sanctity of marriage.  North Carolina takes that seriously. There are two primary types of heart-balm seen in Pine State courtrooms:  Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation

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What Is Alienation of Affection? 

Alienation of affections is a common law tort.  A “tort” is a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (excluding breach of contract) leading to civil legal liability and damages.  An action for alienation of affection or affections is brought by a deserted spouse against a THIRD PARTY accused of being responsible for breaking up the marriage.  
This the wrongful act of one person that interferes with the affection one spouse has for the other. This could be one a husband or wife is deprived of the others affection because they have fallen in love with someone else  Blacks Law Dictionary 
To prove “alienation of affection,” the harmed spouse must show that the defendant wrongfully alienated and destroyed the genuine love and affection that existed between spouses in the marriage.   While normally this involves marital infidelity and an elicit affair, a THIRD PARTY DEFENDANT could be someone who intended to cause the loss in affection and was not involved in an extramarital relationship.  That is rare, but not impossible, in North Carolina family law court.
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While related, alienation of affection and criminal conversation are different.  North Carolina is one of the law few states where “heart balm” cases are still regularly filed.  They also can result in substantial verdicts and large settlements.  
Lawyers have repeatedly attempted to set-aside the practice of allowing suits for heart-balm claims on the basis they, “Violate the First and Fourteen Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”   CLICK HERE to read a SAMPLE ORDER noting the Court’s Order was NOT appealed.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals, in September 2017, again clarified the legality of heart-balm cases such as Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation.  CLICK HERE: NC ALIENATION OF AFFECTION

What Are the Laws in North Carolina About Alienation of Affection? 

“A claim for alienation of affections is comprised of wrongful acts which deprive a married person of the affections of his or her spouse—love, society, companionship and comfort of the other spouse.” Darnell v. Rupplin, 91 N.C. App. 349, 350, 371 S.E.2d 743, 744 (1988).
How to prove a North Carolina claim of Alienation of Affection:
The aggrieved party, the Plaintiff, must prove
  • (1) That the spouses were happily married and a genuine love and affection existed between them;
  • (2) That the he love and affection was alienated and destroyed; and
  • (3) That the defendant caused the destruction of that marital love and affection.


if you believe you have a claim, please CONTACT US immediately.  We are here to help. We’re not afraid to tackle the hard cases.  We’ll want to sit down with you, ask a lot of questions, and answer questions you may have.  

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