General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Should you be able to sue the guy with whom your wife cheated on you?

Asked by elbanditoroso (30540points) October 4th, 2019

Hard to believe this is a real law – but apparently in North Carolina you can sue – and win – against the guy who your wife slept with.


Even more surprising is that seven other states have a similar law.

(I wonder what the statue of limitations is on bringing suit….)

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36 Answers

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think not. But adultery IS illegal. Buy, it takes two to tango.

snowberry's avatar

Certainly if he somehow damaged your possessions.

canidmajor's avatar

No. I know that such laws are still on the books in some places, but it is really absurd to legislate infidelity in such matters.

anniereborn's avatar

No. It’s just as much her fault as his. Maybe even more.

Patty_Melt's avatar

The grounds is alienation of affection.
He has partaken of goodies which are contractually yours.

zenvelo's avatar

Can I countersue for having an attractive nuisance?

rebbel's avatar

Interesting question and answers, but I’m off to do some ‘conversation’.

si3tech's avatar

Saw a movie on similar subject. Wife sued woman for alienation of affection and won a judgement of more than a million dollars. The woman pursued the man who was married with children . This completely destroyed many peoples’ lives. It was a great movie and even better judgement! I would definitely look into that!

SEKA's avatar

That used to be a law on every state books in the US. It was called alienation of affection. The man could sue the man that his wife was sleeping with claiming she would have been home where she belonged if this cad not influenced her to do otherwise. The woman could sue the other woman for tempting the husband to stray. It was used more by women than men. During the women’s rights movement, most women insisted that they were not the property of their husband and that particular law died a slow death in most states. I’m surprised/not surprised that NC has kept the law on the books

ucme's avatar

As far as i’m aware, the dead can’t be sued.

seawulf575's avatar

I’m not even sure why adultery should be a thing. After all, it’s a woman’s body, her choice, right?

gorillapaws's avatar

No but I do think you should get to administer a kick to his nuts for breaking the guy-code.

kritiper's avatar

No, why punish yourself even more? Just leave him and her. If she was so bad for you, she will probably be bad for him, so get some satisfaction from that.

SEKA's avatar

According to Wiki it’s NOT only the person cheating with the spouse that can be charged. The defendant in an alienation of affections suit is typically an adulterous spouse’s lover, although family members, counselors and therapists or clergy members who have advised a spouse to seek divorce have also been sued for alienation of affections.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. We can always adopt Muslim policy, and stone the cheater to death.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Somebody please post the body of the article.

Sounds interesting.

Darth_Algar's avatar

No. Your marital problems are your concern, not his.

Sagacious's avatar

Yes. Alienation of Affection is the tort claim. It is common law and has not been abolished in six states: Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I wanted the Washington Post article. I’d snag it myself if I was on my desk top. But I’m not. So I’ll wait for tomorrow when I am.

LostInParadise's avatar

Does the law also allow a woman to sue the woman her husband slept with? I am guessing not. Sounds like the biblical view that a wife is a man’s property.

JLeslie's avatar

Several states have homewrecker laws, or alienation of affection laws, still on the books. I’m ok with it. This isn’t the first time NC is in the news for a lawsuit being won by the scorn spouse. Probably, there should be some sort of limit on how much you can sue for. I think also the loser should pay court fees for taking up the court’s time.

I always say the only way to hurt a cheating spouse is to take their money, that’s part of the revenge if you seek revenge. It’s also practical if the break in the marriage is devastating, which it often is. A spouse left behind having to worry about paying a bill while mourning the relationship is cruel and unusual punishment.

Going after the person luring your spouse away makes some sense. Who knows how often the spouse scorn actually gets some money from the mistress after the rulings.

The part of me that doesn’t like the law, is I don’t like the government being in relationships so much. Like when the state makes people wait 6 months to get a divorce. I’m against that sort of thing, although some delays I’m ok with when it protects the children. That’s another topic though.

@LostInParadise Women sue.

LostInParadise's avatar

I wonder how many lawsuits have been initiated by women.

JLeslie's avatar

^^More than you would think. I remember reading years ago when a court case made the news (also in NC) that a lot of cases are filed. I don’t know how many actually make it to court.

Edit: here is a link that says an average of 200 cases of alienation of affection are filed each year in NC.

LostInParadise's avatar

Suppose that you have two couples, and the husband in one couple cheats with the wife of the other. You could now have two lawsuits. The husband of the cheating wife can sue the cheating husband and the wife of the cheating husband can sue the cheating wife. Would the two lawsuits cancel each other out?

SEKA's avatar

^ I think that’s caslled wife swapping

LostInParadise's avatar

Not really swapping, since only one husband and one wife is involved.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

@SEKA “Wife swapping” implies consent on the wife’s part.
My Dad suggested wife swapping with his brother in the 70s. Mom was horrified. I don’t blame her one bit. (She told me this when I was in my late 20s, 10 years after she left him.)

AlsoWeirdedOut's avatar

A wise judge once said: “Why would you be angry at him? He didn’t make a promise to you, your wife did; she’s the liar.”

Or “Why would you be angry and fight with her, SHE didn’t break your vows, she never made any vows to you, HE did. Be mad at him.”

They might not have even known you exist, because how many cheaters say “Oh, yeah I’m married” or “Oh, I’m married and live in a house with our kids” before they hop outside the marital bed?
Usually, the cheater lies about their marital status, both men and women. Your husband/wife probably lied to her/him, too. I say “too”, because they lied to you first.
Sue the liar: for a divorce.

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Sagacious's avatar

Under common law, yes. The bar is an absolute loss of the relationship though. Just because a spouse cheats is not always enough; if the spouses can get past it the claim disappears.

It is not just in North Carolina. This is our common law, meaning any state that has not abolished it in their codes will still respect the common law tort.

MrGrimm888's avatar

What if the guy didn’t know that the woman was married? Ignorance, is NOT an excuse, in many cases of the law. But if a woman is lying about herself, or willfully omitting things, it’s hard to justify a suit…

Sagacious's avatar

That would be his defense and the burden would be on him…..not as easy as it sounds. Another defense is that the woman actually wooed and seduced him rather than vice versa. The are the only two affirmative defenses of which I am aware. I know of a case where the man attempted to prove that the marriage was already over and there was no love between them. He did not succeed in the lawsuit but his argument was quite good.

LogicHead's avatar

My legal education is a little rusty but look up “alienation of Affections”

Alienation of affections is a common law tort, abolished in many jurisdictions. Where it still exists, an action is brought by a spouse against a third party alleged to be responsible for damaging the marriage, most often resulting in divorce.

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