Domestic Torts

Alienation of Affections

With this cause of action, you must prove the following:

  1. (i) you and your spouse were happily married and shared a genuine love and affection for one another;
  2. (ii) the love and affection was alienated and destroyed;
  3. (iii) the loss of love and affection was caused by the wrongful and malicious acts of a 3rd party.

This type of claim is usually brought by the innocent spouse against the paramour of the guilty spouse and does not require proof of adultery. The claim can be brought against any third party, not necessarily a paramour. For example, a claim could be made against a mother-in-law or a friend of your spouse. Furthermore, telephone calls and emails may be sufficient to subject a non-resident to the jurisdiction of the North Carolina courts for purposes of this cause of action.

Criminal Conversation

Unlike alienation of affections, a criminal conversion action does in fact require sexual intercourse between your spouse and a third party. Sexual intercourse can be proven by circumstantial evidence of “opportunity” and “inclination” to have sexual intercourse or by way of admission. For this cause of action, you must prove the following:

  1. (i) marriage between the spouses; and
  2. (ii) evidence of sexual relations between your spouse and a third party. (Note that the evidence of sexual relations must have occurred prior to the physical separation of you and your spouse.)

In North Carolina, the standard test for circumstantial proof of adultery requires proof of inclination and opportunity. The statute of limitations for the claims of alienation of affections and criminal conversation is three years. The statute of limitations begins to run from the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action. There are many issues to evaluate prior to pursuing such claims and consulting with us, if you believe you may have such a claim, is recommended.