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Can You Sue the Party Who “Stole the Affections” of Your Spouse?

During divorce, “alienation of affection” refers to a situation where a spouse believes that another man or woman stole the affections of his/her spouse. Emotions typically fly high in this type of situation. uses “alienation of affection” to describe lawsuits filed against third-party lovers or “home wreckers.” The claim is that the actions of the third party caused the spouse to lose affection and leave the other spouse.

This law used to exist in New York and many other states, but today only a few states still have alienation of affection laws: Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.

The Alienation of Affection Law

New York was the first state to establish an alienation of affection law in 1864, but at that time, it only applied to men, and men could sue another man for stealing his wife from him. The law regarded women as property back then, and women did not have the same legal right to sue for damages until later on, when they were no longer regarded as property. The law later evolved into being a way to preserve and protect families. However, most courts eventually abolished the law for a number of reasons, and among them was seeing that the law fostered revenge rather than reconciliation.

What About Dating While Divorce Is Pending?

As you fast forward to 2017, while there’s no legal action to sue someone for dating your spouse while divorce is pending, that does not mean dating during divorce is a good idea. In fact, it could negatively influence your case and cause judges to rule against you in custody or child support cases. Potentially, the emotional harm to children is substantial because it exposes them to further confusion and upset. Most judges would view you as insensitive to your children’s needs if you dated while your divorce was pending.

Do You Have Questions about Divorce? Consult with a Divorce Lawyer.

It is important to consult with a lawyer early on in your divorce case so you can avoid actions that would further complicate divorce. Attorney Chris Palermo offers compassionate legal representation that helps guide you through a challenging divorce.