Alienation and Affection and Criminal Conversation Law in North Carolina

North Carolina is one of a few states that continues to recognize the marital torts of alienation of affections and criminal conversation. Despite multiple judicial and legislative attempts to abolish these causes of action, they remain viable.

In August of 2009, the Governor signed new legislation making significant changes to alienation of affections and criminal conversation actions in North Carolina. The statute provides three (3) major changes or clarifications: (1) Employers cannot be sued for the actions of their employees (i.e., if your spouse commits adultery with a coworker while on a company business trip, you cannot sue the company); (2) The statue of limitations begins to run from the commission of the act and not from the time that the plaintiff spouse learns of the act; and (3) Acts after the date of separation do not give rise to claims for criminal conversation (prior to the new legislation, a defendant could be liable for criminal conversation for sexual acts occurring after the date of separation).

Alienation of Affections

In an alienation of affections action, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant committed wrongful acts which deprived plaintiff of the love and affection of his or her spouse.

What must be proven in an alienation of affections case?

1.Marriage between the plaintiff and his or her spouse and a genuine love and affection existing between them;
2.Then love and affection was alienated and destroyed;
3.The wrongful and malicious acts of the defendant caused the loss of love and alienation of affection; and
4.As a result of the alienation, the plaintiff suffered mental and emotional anguish and other suffering, loss of income or support and loss of consortium.

Criminal Conversation

In a criminal conversation action, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant merely had sex with the plaintiff’s husband or wife.

What must be proven in a criminal conversation case?

1.Valid marriage between the plaintiff and his or her spouse;
2.Sexual intercourse or adultery between the defendant and plaintiff’s spouse; and
3.As a result of the criminal conversation, the plaintiff suffered mental and/or emotional harm, loss of income or support and loss of consortium.