Alienation of affections and criminal conversation are claims for money damages filed against someone for acts related to your marriage. Alienation of affections is a claim based on someone willfully doing something to alienate or destroy the love and affections your spouse had for you.  Criminal conversation is a claim based on someone having sexual relations with your spouse.

Legal Elements of Alienation of Affections

In North Carolina, you may sue a person who has caused  loss of the love and affection of your spouse. To prove this case in court, you must satisfy the following elements of the case:

  1. You and your spouse were in a good and loving marriage and genuine love and affection existed between the two of you.
  2. The love and affection was alienated and destroyed by a third party’s acts.
  3. The wrongful and malicious acts of the third-party produced the alienation of affection.

North Carolina case law has defined such terms as “malicious” and “good and loving.”   The terms are not as clear or understandable as they would appear at first read.  For example, the requirement for a good and loving marriage is not a requirement for a perfect marriage.

The Alienation of Affections Claim

The claim for alienation of affections is typically filed in the superior court division in North Carolina.  In the past I have also filed them in district court where I wanted to try to fast-track the process (typically district courts are easier to get hearing dates in).   Teh complaint for alienation of affections sets out the relevant facts and is served on the defendant.    Once service is made by a sheriff’s deputy or certified mail, it is typical to demand documents and information from the defendant related to the case, such as emails, phone records, expense receipts, etc.

Do not be surprised if the defendant asks for documents and information to defend the claim.  The defenses to alienation of affections could be based on a denial that there was a loving relationship at home and/or that the defendant did anything wrong.



Scott Allen is an attorney in Raleigh, NC with over nineteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement including alienation of affections claims and defense. He can be reached at 919.863.4183.