When it comes to such issues as divorce and child custody, most states have similar laws on the books that seek to enforce fairness and equitable division of property. Sometimes, though, an individual state might not follow the pattern of most other states.
Such a situation exists in North Carolina’s so-called “homewrecker law,” which allows a spouse to sue the illicit lover of his or her spouse for damages.
A minority of states
The 9th Street Journal reports that only six states retain this law, called either criminal conversation or alienation of affection, on the books. Information from North Carolina shows that about 200 of these cases come up each year.
These types of cases present many challenges for the plaintiff. Evidence must show that the marriage remained intact at the time of the affair and that the affair did indeed cause irreparable damage to a stable marriage. A judge will not rule for the plaintiff if the marriage did not function as a happy union.
The law only allows for actions against the illicit lover and not against the wandering spouse. Nonetheless, the spouse having the affair likely becomes involved in the case to some degree.
An interesting history
While most observers do not believe legislators will banish the law anytime soon, court actions and legislative tinkering have impacted the law in recent years. In 1984, the North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned the law, but then the Supreme Court reversed this ruling.
The General Assembly made a few changes to the law in 2009. These stated that the affair had to happen before any marital separation and the plaintiff had to file the case within three years of the affair.