When you think of a home wrecker, you may picture someone who causes chaos in your home. And you would be right! Under North Carolina law, you may file a lawsuit for monetary damages if someone “sleeps with” or takes the affection of your spouse before you separate. Let’s look at how criminal conversation and alienation of affection lawsuits work in NC.

Your Marriage is a Legal Contract

In North Carolina, a marriage is a legal agreement between a man and a woman who commit to a lifelong relationship. The act of physical intimacy is exclusively between those two people. Usually, during a marriage ceremony, the couple vows to love each other in sickness and health, for better or worse, until death.

However, if things go south, the state offers a way out of the marriage. You can end your marriage if needed through separation and divorce legal proceedings.

Once you’ve separated from each other for one year, NC allows a spouse to file for divorce. Divorce in NC is “no-fault,” which means that the family law court does not legally punish a spouse for causing the failure of the marriage.

However, if one spouse sleeps with another person before a couple separates, this is cheating. When one spouse cheats on their spouse before separation, the other spouse may sue the person who slept with their spouse. There are two ways a spouse can sue someone for an inappropriate relationship with their spouse.

Home Wrecker Law 1: Criminal Conversation Law

Home wreckers are individuals who sleep with married people before they separate. You may have legal recourse if you are married and not separated when your spouse sleeps with another person.

When you file a criminal conversation lawsuit, you ask the court to award you damages because of a physical relationship between your spouse and the person you are suing. If you are married and not yet separated and your spouse sleeps with another person, you may have civil recourse through a criminal conversation lawsuit against the person they slept with.

A criminal conversation lawsuit does not make the person you sue a “criminal” or give them a “criminal” record though, so don’t worry about that!

There are many ways to prove that your spouse had an extramarital activity with someone else. The court may look at your spouse’s

  • Emails
  • Texts
  • Facebook, Instagram, or other social media
  • Witness statements
  • Opportunity (i.e., receipts for hotel rooms when both were in the same town)
  • Pictures or videos of their relationship

If you have any of the above evidence or know that a physical relationship exists, contact a divorce attorney who works with criminal conversation law.

Home Wrecker Law 2: Alienation of Affection

An alienation of affection (AOA) lawsuit is similar to a criminal conversation lawsuit in that they are both about seeking damages from the person who caused the loss in your marriage. However, an AOA is not about physical cheating. It is about the loss of love and affection you once enjoyed in your relationship.

“Alienation of affection is the interference with the relationship between a husband and wife by a third party without an excuse. This is a civil tort claim, usually filed against third-party lovers, brought by a spouse who’s been alienated due to the actions of a third party.” (1)

If you decide to also seek an alienation of affection suit in North Carolina, there are a few things you must affirm:

  • You were happily married and had genuine love and affection together
  • Your love and affection were alienated and destroyed.
  • The person you are suing brought about the loss of affection and love in your marriage by committing wrongful and malicious acts.
  • This person’s actions caused the loss of affection between you and your spouse. (This kind of case is not about the actual physical cheating)

There are cases in North Carolina where individuals received damages in an AOA for over a million dollars. When someone comes into your marriage and takes away the love and affection you once enjoyed, this is painful and unfair to you.

If you want to explore this option, speak with an experienced divorce lawyer about your particular case.

We Can Help

At Cape Fear Law, we understand the devastation you can feel if your spouse cheats on you before you separate. We focus on your legal rights to recourse. It hurts to feel betrayed, but you don’t have to go through this alone.

We are here if you want to talk about home wrecker laws and how they may apply to your case. Our review of your evidence will give you a good idea of your next steps. We understand that this is a difficult time for you, and we want to help in any way we can.