alienation of affections in NC

Heartbalm claims, including alienation of affections and criminal conversation, were designed as a means to protect the sanctity of marriage.  Years ago, these claims were available in almost all states. Today, these claims have been abolished in all but a handful of states and are currently under attack in North Carolina.  

As recently as June, 2014, a Superior Court judge in Forsyth County ruled that Alienation of Affections claims are unconstitutional.  Essentially, the judge reasoned that Alienation of Affections claims are used more often to black mail cheating spouses than to actually deter cheating from occurring, and therefore the claims don't actually serve the purpose for which they were designed, which is to protect the sanctity of marriage. Instead, the Judge ruled that the claims infringe on the constitutional rights of adults to have consensual sex and "conversation" with another adult, which the judge deemed to be a fundamental liberty.  Read more about this case from a Winston-Salem Journal article here.  

However, until either our Court of Appeals or Supreme Court rules similarly, or our legislature re-writes the current statutes on these matters, claims for alienation of affections and criminal conversation will continue to live on in North Carolina. 

A claim for alienation of affections claim must meet the following elements:

  1. ​Genuine love and affection must have existed between a happily married couple;
  2. That love and affection was alienated and destroyed; 
  3. The wrongful and malicious acts of a third party caused the love and affection to be alienated; AND
  4. The innocent spouse suffered damages as a result.

Criminal conversation is another claim which may be brought by a plaintiff spouse against a third party to the marriage; however, this claim requires sexual activity be shown between the third party and the plaintiff's spouse. These claims are known as "heartbalm claims," and are no longer recognized in most states; however, North Carolina is one of few states that provides causes of action for both of these claims.   

These types of claims have received huge amounts of coverage in the media over the years as there have been several high profile, multi-million dollar awards given to wronged spouses.  However, these results are not typical, and both of these claims can be difficult to bring and sustain due to evidentiary hurdles, the expense of pursuing the claims, and constitutional challenges to the claims.


To speak with a Charlotte Family and Divorce lawyer regarding alienation of affections or criminal conversation, call 704-412-1442.

Marital Misconduct and your case

Even if you don't have a claim for Alienation of Affections or Criminal Conversation, the bad acts of your spouse can still have a major impact on your overall divorce case.  The impact of marital misconduct depends on the type of claim being pursued and the details of the marital misconduct that has occurred within the marriage.  Marital misconduct has no impact on Equitable Distribution (property division) between divorcing parties, but may have a profound impact on Alimony.  For instance, if a supporting spouse can prove adultery on behalf of the dependent spouse in an Alimony claim (and the supporting spouse has clean hands, i.e., has not committed adultery), NC law bars a court from awarding Alimony to the dependent spouse.  On the other hand, if the support spouse is found to have committed adultery and the dependent spouse has clean hands, then the court must order alimony.  Questions?  Call a Charlotte family law and divorce lawyer today at 704-412-1442.

To read more, visit Prism's Marital Misconduct page.  

How Prism Family Law Firm can help:

* Advising you on the possible impact of             marital misconduct in your particular situation.

* Filing claims related to marital misconduct         against your spouse on your behalf.

* Defendingyou when claims involving marital     misconduct have been brought against you.

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To speak with a Charlotte divorce attorney regarding alienation of affections and/or criminal conversation, call 704-412-1442.


Alienation of affections

Charlotte Mecklenburg Divorce Lawyer

Alienation of Affections refers to a claim which may be brought by a plaintiff spouse against a third party to the marriage when the plaintiff spouse can show that it was the third party's actions which caused the affection in the marriage to cease.  

Contact Info

Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at law, PLLC

10130 Mallard Creek Rd

Suite 319

Charlotte, NC 28262

704-412-1442 (phone)

866-779-2724 (fax)

Charlotte Family law and divorce Lawyer