We wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about a man who sought to sue his former partner for breaking up with him. Spoiler alert: he was unsuccessful. We were recently reminded of this case after reading that a North Carolina man recently sued his wife’s lover.

Discovering the affair

According to a story on NBC News, the couple were married in 2005 and according to the husband were “happily married to each other” before the affair, which began in 2016. The affair was discovered after the husband hired a private investigator following marriage counselling. The husband told an NBC affiliate “”It was like a punch in the gut because I thought I had this trust for 12 years.” The husband, who knew the lover, decided to take legal action after coming to the belief that the lover’s actions were intentional. He told the station, “He came to my house and ate dinner with us. We shared stories, we talked about personal lives,” adding he either knew or should have known that what he was doing would cause damage to the husband and to the couple’s relationship.

Alienation of Affection

North Carolina law allows a spouse to sue a third party if that party interferes with the sanctity of a relationship of marriage. These are civil actions, referred to as Alienation of Affection. The website for the husband’s lawyer states,

“To prove alienation of affection in court, the innocent spouse must establish there was genuine love and affection between the two spouses in their marriage, that the love and affection was alienated by the wrongful conduct of the defendant, and that the innocent spouse was damaged by the defendant’s willful interference in the marriage of the innocent spouse and the other spouse.”

Success in court? And what about Ontario?

The husband was ultimately successful in his pursuit of damages, and was awarded $750,000 in damages under his Alienation of Affection tort claim. The award was not the highest of its type in North Carolina. The husband’s lawyer obtained a $5.9 million judgment for a client in 2010, which at its time was the second-highest of its type in the state.

Ontario, has no law similar to North Carolina’s. Unlike some US states, adultery is not illegal in Ontario and very rarely has an impact on how family law issues play out.

Of course, adultery can have serious consequences, and can lead to separation or divorce. If you are involved in a relationship that might be coming to an end due to adultery or other reasons, it’s important to seek legal counsel. To speak with an experienced Windsor lawyer about divorce or other family-related issues, call 519.973.1500 or contact us online. Many of our clients are referred to us by former and current clients, as well as by lawyers, accountants and other professionals. Our founding lawyer, Jason P. Howie, is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Family Law. Along with his associate, Amy Johnson, and his legal team, he provides personalized attention and support to clients with divorce and family law concerns.