If you live in North Carolina, you’ve probably known someone who has sued or been sued for the tort of alienation of affection. Or you’ve at least heard of a jilted spouse who wants to sue the spouse’s lover. According to Wikipedia (and they’re never wrong, right?), North Carolina is one of only 7 states that still allows lawsuits for alienation of affection. This law has been around for a long time, has survived numerous attempts at repeal, and is used today far more often than you might expect. Thus, in North Carolina an outsider who interferes in another’s marriage can be in some really hot water. For decades, NC juries have awarded large sums to husbands and wives whose marriages were broken up by third parties.
Now, however, one plaintiff is trying to apply this old (many would argue outdated) law to very new technology — the dating-while-married website Ashley Madison, whose motto is “Life is short. Have an affair.” One North Carolina man is suing the website for alienation of affection and claiming that the online dating service aided his wife in finding her paramour. Before any jilted spouses get big ideas about suing any person or business who facilitates or encourages an affair, however, they should know that the suit has little chance of succeeding. For one thing, the legislature in 2009 passed an amendment that prevents spouses from suing businesses that play a role in extramarital affairs (hotels, restaurants, clubs…). Plus, the website was merely a facilitator of the cheating, not the actual perpetrator. If the plaintiff’s wife hadn’t met her boyfriend on Ashley Madison, couldn’t she have met someone on any other dating site? Or any bar?
While this man’s lawsuit will most likely be dismissed, many North Carolinians successfully sue their cheating spouses’ lovers for alienation of affection. In order to prove alienation of affection, they must show:
- That the couple was happily married and a genuine love and affection existed between them;
- That the love and affection was alienated and destroyed; and
- That the wrongful and malicious acts of the defendant caused the alienation of affection.
What do you think? Is this type of lawsuit outdated? Should we be able to sue those who facilitate or encourage the cheating, in addition to the actual person who does the cheating?
I am unsure how I feel about this ability to sue the perpetrator. Frankly, I had not known this was possible until today. I will be interested to see if this type of lawsuit becomes more popular, as our online lives are making the collection of required evidence all the more accessible to furious spouses.
Yes we should. Only if the other party knows or should reasonably know about the marriage. It’s pretty obvious when you’re with a married man/woman. Most other women/men know prior anyways. Of course there should be exceptions, such as, being married to a serial cheater but forgiving the infidelity, and it shouldn’t be allowed when/ If the couple stay together considering the fraud chance. Marriage is much more than affection, it is a contract, and interfering in a contract is a punitive action. The contract is not limited to a commitment of fidelity either. It’s a financial contract in a sense, seeing as what’s hers is his, his is hers, and it’s governed by state, as they make the rules at the contracts end. It’s an agreement between parties and involves all aspects of the spouses lives. There are often children,cars, homes, belongings, health and life insurance, bank accounts, etc., all combined.
When speaking about these websites, I’m divided on it, as it’s often fake profiles and the website is not out seeking married men to sleep with. However, tonight while watching a movie on the channel “Spike,” there was a commercial for this ashleymadison website and they were singing, “looking for someone other than your wife,” over and over, while showing models as their women (shocker). My husband and I both said, “what the f*#k” at the same time. We already knew about the site because my cousin had been on it recently, whom by the way, is one of the most honest and decent men I’ve ever known. He didn’t meet anyone and claim to just look in a make fun way, but whatever. Anyways, If it could entice him, what about men/women who’ve been having a tough go at it in their marriage lately? We know it isn’t easy, and marriage is already lacking in fidelity rates, so why feel the need to advertise.
I honestly think a case could go forward now that advertising has been brought to mainstream television. This isn’t just a sugar baby website. This is a website saying, come here and cheat on your wife. Its being aired on basic cable. Its been shown on one of the most popular mens stations to reach the masses. And for some reason it really irked my nerves that it was played on Sunday night, knowing couples are often watching tv together. This company, the tv station, the cable advertising people, to me, are saying, screw your family, cheat. If someone watching the commercial signs up and cheats, they were enticed by the advertisement. Advertising is a financial contract. This means, all of the companies involved are accomplices to the violation of the marital contract. They are all guilty of alienation of affection. They are all inferring with a contact for financial gain. That is punitive. Frankly, I’d sue them all, even if I didn’t get anywhere, at least they’d question the choice of advertisements. This is a bad choice for all companies involved. It makes me mad to think about spike tv and charter airing it, as they can air plenty of commercials with no loss in revenue, without encouraging the breaking up of families. For every man that cheats on ashleymadison, there is a wife doing the same. This has a great capability of ruining families. Its just disgusting.
GREAT LAW…IT SHOULD STAY IN PLACE…too many single women see a happily married men and set out to get them
They don’t care or respect the marriage…they are just set on getting the man and play on the man’s sympathies. ..thus pulling them slowly away from the wife …and making the wife out to be the problem in the relationship. ..As for emails etc…If a husband uses the computer of the wife and leaves the email etc in the history and or open…what the wife finds is fair game…