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Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation in NC: What’s the Difference?

| May 27, 2023 | Divorce

Are you considering suing for alienation of affection? Has someone named you in a lawsuit for alienation of affection?

Perhaps you have read the headlines about the lawsuit for alienation of affection? Maybe you are ondering how successful alienation of affection cases are in North Carolina. Find out if you have a case for (or a defense for) alienation of affection, what you need to know about infidelity under North Carolina law, and more.

What Is Alienation of Affection?

Alienation of affection is a tort only a few states recognize, including North Carolina. This claim is available when a third party intentionally causes your spouse to lose affection or love for you, resulting in a damaged marriage and, in most cases, separation and divorce.

In most cases, the defendant in an alienation of affection lawsuit is the person who had a romantic relationship with your spouse while you were still married.

Is Alienation of Affection a Crime?

No, alienation of affection is not a crime. However, a civil tort allows an innocent spouse to sue a third party for damages if they lose their spouse’s affection.

Can You Sue for Alienation of Affection in North Carolina?

Yes, you can sue for alienation of affection in North Carolina. It is one of the few states that still recognize this claim. The offended spouse can bring an action against a third party who is allegedly responsible for damage to the marriage. Typically, this third party is the lover of the other spouse, but in rare cases has extended to in-laws or other family members who have interfered in the marriage.

What Does Alienation of Affection Mean and Is Alienation of Affection Grounds for Divorce?

Alienation of affection means a third party intentionally caused your spouse to lose affection or love for you and damaged the marriage. In an alienation of affection North Carolina lawsuit, you must prove the defendant’s malicious conduct contributed to or caused the loss of affection in your marriage. You must also prove that there was at least some degree of love and affection in the marriage. This is not a high burden to typically prove. Examples of evidence to show love and affection are family vacations, Valentine’s Day cards, etc.

Alienation of affection is not one of the statutory grounds for divorce in North Carolina.

What Constitutes Alienation of Affection?

Alienation of affection constitutes intentionally causing a married person to lose affection or love for their spouse. This can include the following:

  • Seducing or pursuing a married person
  • Providing emotional support the spouse should give
  • Engaging in any intentional conduct that damages the marriage

Defendants in alienation of affection suits are often the adulterous spouse’s paramour (or lover), but family members, counselors, therapists, or clergy who advised divorce can also be sued.

Do you have a case for alienation of affection?
Do you need a North Carolina alienation of affection attorney?

Contact Spidell Family Law TODAY to schedule your consultation!

What Are the Defenses for Alienation of Affection?

Defenses for alienation of affection include:

  • Not knowing the person they were involved with was married
  • The guilty spouse was the aggressive seducer

It is NOT a defense that:

  1. The defendant did not intend to ruin the marriage
  2. There were prior problems in the marriage unless those problems destroyed the love between the spouses.

How to Fight Alienation of Affection

If you’re facing a lawsuit for alienation of affection, consult a family law attorney who can help prepare a strong defense. It’s not a defense if the guilty spouse consented to the conduct, but it may be a defense if the defendant wasn’t the aggressive seducer.

Marital problems alone aren’t a defense unless they negate love. Criminal conversation lawsuits require proof of sex between the non-spouse and one of the spouses and knowledge of the marriage.

Here are three tips to consider if you’re preparing a defense against alienation of affection:

  • Gather evidence to support your defense, such as emails or texts.
  • Stay calm and avoid retaliatory behavior, as this could be used against you in court.
  • Make a list of witnesses who may be able to corroborate your case.
  • Consider hiring a Private Investigator prior to separation to establish your claims,

How to Prove Alienation of Affection

To succeed in an alienation claim, the plaintiff has to show the following elements:

  • The marriage entailed love between the spouses to some degree.
  • The spousal love was alienated.
  • The defendant’s malicious conduct contributed to or caused the loss of affection.

What Is Criminal Conversation?

While alienation of affection doesn’t require proof that your spouse and their paramour engaged in sexual activity, criminal conversation lawsuits do require proof of sex between the spouse and non-spouse as well as knowledge of the marriage. The requirements are as follows:

1) The non-spouse knew there was an actual marriage between the husband and wife.


2) The non-spouse had sex with one of the spouses.

Are You Looking for an Alienation of Affection Lawyer?

Don’t let the complexities of this emotionally charged area of family law overwhelm you. Instead, turn to Spidell Family Law for guidance and support.

Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need!

Call Spidell Family Law TODAY at 336-283-7351 to take the first step toward resolving your alienation of affection case.