Alienation of Affection

September 20th, 2022

North Carolina is one of the few states that recognizes alienation of affection as a civil issue. This recognition means that in our state, a person can sue a third party if they believe that that party’s actions lead to a loss of affection and love from their spouse. It is most common to see alienation of affection suits against extramarital romantic partners, or paramours. However, they can actually apply to anybody (even in-laws!) except a business or company. There are a number of criteria you must meet in order to have a successful case of alienation of affection, and you must prove all of them. If you do win your case, you might receive damages in the form of monetary compensation. If you are considering suing somebody for alienation of affection, you’ll need to speak to an experienced attorney to help guide you in the right direction.

Criteria for Alienation of Affection

There are a specific number of criteria that you must prove in order to have a case for alienation of affection. 1) You must prove that you and your spouse previously had a loving and affectionate marriage. 2) You must prove that that affection and love was destroyed. 3) You must prove that the third party acted harmfully and maliciously to destroy that love and affection. 4) You must prove that you and your spouse were not separated when the acts occurred. And 5) that the alienation of affection hurt you.

How to Prove Alienation of Affection

To win a case of alienation of affection, you’ll need to prove each and every one of the criteria. For example, to prove your marriage was valid you could show notes, letters, or pictures from your marriage. To prove that the third party created a loss of affection you might show text messages arranging secret meet-ups or excessive phone calls. You can use separation from your spouse, depression, or financial stress to show the damage from the loss of affection.


If you can prove an alienation of affection, you might be entitled to damages, or money, from the third party. Compensatory damages are meant to replace money that you actually lost. For example, you might receive compensatory damages if the alienation of affection caused your marriage to end, thus losing you your spouse’s income help and half your property. Or if you needed to pay for therapy to deal with the loss of affection. In contrast, punitive damages are meant as a punishment if the actions of the third party were particularly heinous or shocking.

How to File a Suit

If you are considering filing an alienation of affection suit, you’ll need to speak to an attorney. These can be difficult cases to win, and you’ll want somebody with plenty of experience on your side. They’ll be able to help you decide if this is a lawsuit worth bringing, and how likely you are to win. They’ll also help you gather the evidence you need to prove each of the criteria, and help you make an airtight case.

Alienation of Affection is a tort that is valid in North Carolina, but not in all states. While you might bring an alienation of affection case against a meddling in-law, the most common forms of this lawsuit are against third parties that engaged in extramarital affairs. You’ll have to prove a number of criteria in order to have a winnable case. For instance that your marriage was valid and previously had love and affection, and that you suffered losses because of the direct actions of another person that resulted in the loss of that love. If you win your case, you’ll likely receive damages in the form of compensatory money, but in extreme cases you might also received punitive damages. In order to find out if this is a case worth pursuing, you should speak with an experienced attorney. They’ll help you build your case and ensure that you win the money you deserve