What is Alienation of Affection?

Alienation of affection is when a third party interferes in the marriage of two spouses and causes the innocent spouse to suffer loss of affection from the other spouse.

Alienation of Affection lawsuits are civil legal actions seeking monetary damages from the other spouse’s boyfriend or girlfriend that alleges his or her responsibility for harm to the marital relationship. To make the claim, it must be established that the marriage was intact at the time the alienation occurred. While most of these actions are brought against a paramour, they can also be brought against other third parties such as a relative, an in-law or a same-sex lover if their conduct maliciously interfered with the marriage.

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.

It is not necessary to prove that the paramour or other interfering third party consciously intended to harm the marriage – only that he or she should have foreseen the harm their wrongful conduct would cause to the marital relationship. It is not necessary to prove that the marriage was free of problems, or that the other spouse was lured or manipulated into a relationship with the defendant – only that he or she participated.

Proving alienation of affection does not require proof of a sexual relationship between the plaintiff spouse and the defendant. The purpose of alienation of affection law is to protect love and affection in the marriage, not to protect the right to sexual exclusivity.