Alienation of affection


#1

Dear splashv8:

Greetings. You have a statute of limitations which begins counting on the date that you learn of the relationship. How long has it been since you learned of the relationship your wife was having with this man you want to sue?

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
RosenDivorce.com
919-787-6668

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


#2

“…statute of limitations which begins counting on the date that you learn of the relationship.”

Okay… law school question…

John is married to Jane. John has an affair with Joan. John and Jane get divorced and fifteen years pass. Jane learns that John had an affair during their marriage. Jane can file a suit against Joan fifteen years after the fact? Is it relevant if John and Jane are still together? Is it relevant if it was one sexual encounter or would it need to be a sustained relationship? This seems like a “shotgun behind the door” application of the statute.


#3

Dear lawstudent2be:

Greetings. In your example there are two issues: 1. When was it reasonable for Jane to discover the relationship? 2. Is there a statute of repose to go along with the statute of limitation?

Now, since you made me go and do the research, I will ask you to do the same since law school teaches you how to research… does a statute of repose exist and if so, what is it?

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
RosenDivorce.com
919-787-6668

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


#4

I would have to say 2 1/2 years if that.


#5

Dear splashv8:

Greetings. Yes, it sounds like you can still pursue this action. Best of luck.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
RosenDivorce.com
919-787-6668

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


#6

I would say yes a statute of repose does exist (with one very large caveat).
Chapter 1 Section 52 limits to three years an action "For criminal conversation, or for any other injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract and not hereafter enumerated."
The caveat being that I found nothing in the statutes or in appellate case law that indicates that it can’t be taken to mean from the time the affair was found out as opposed to when the affair occurred (though how can your affection for your spouse be alienated fifteen years after the divorce?). It seems to me that a appellate judicial determination (or legislative determination) is in order, as a case-by-case judicial determination (which seems to be how it is done now) would seem ripe for examination as to its federal constitutionality on a Due Process claim.

Interestingly enough, I did find a case that struck me as odd. In what breads even more disturbing possibilities, in Eluhu v. Rosenhaus the NC Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals ruling, which held that the defendant is beyond the jurisdictional reach of NC when he’s not a resident of NC… Moral of the story: If you want to sleep with someone’s spouse make sure you don’t live in NC when you do. Which, since I live in Charlotte, could make for a very interesting case if it involved a person who lived in Rock Hill, SC having an affair with someone who lives in Charlotte, NC.

Also interesting…Alienation of affection is not set in statutory law but in tort set down in the case Henson v. Thomas (1949), which seems to hold that spouses are property.

As regards the reasonableness issue, I would maintain that the final divorce marks the boundary at which it is reasonable for a person to know of the infidelity. So much is settled by the divorce decree it is reasonable that the clock should start on this claim as well. Though I see another problem. What if you flip the time frame…
John and Jane get married. Shortly thereafter John has an affair with Joan. The affair lasts 3 months. Fifteen years LATER John and Jane get divorced for reasons wholly unrelated (at least directly) to John’s affair with Joan. During discovery Jane learns of the affair fifteen years earlier. Would Joan be subject to an AoA claim?


#7

Dear lawstudent2be:

Greetings. First, the case law on Eluhu v. Rosenhaus…I disagree with your total interpretation of this case. This case found that in this isolated instance the Defendant, a resident of California, did not have sufficient minimum contacts for the long arm statute in North Carolina to apply. In fact, the case itself states that the majority of the contact between Plaintiff’s wife and the Defendant did not occur in North Carolina, but in Tennessee. Actually, there are many cases where a resident of another state has sufficient minimum contacts to have personal jurisdiction attach.

I agree with you that there is a time period by which it is unreasonable for someone to be able to pursue an alienation of affection claim. Therefore, for you last example, I would say that no, an action cannot be commenced. Thank you.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
RosenDivorce.com
919-787-6668

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


#8

Hi male 41 was married 20 yrs, living in NC got separated in Jan 03 and divorced of May 04 . They have been seeing each other well before are separation (in NC the parties have to be separated for a year and a day) and he moved in with her not to long after she moved out and been living together ever since, and they married a couple months after our divorce. I would say we had a strong and sometime good marriage. He would leave messages on her cell every morning, go to her work, meet in a public parks and a lot of other places. Can I file suite against him for alienation of affection? What kind of proof do I need or do I need any at all. I hope thei is enough information for you to answer.

Thank You