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So you met a guy. He is a great guy and you can tell.

Dating a married man: think before you act

You are smitten. Sometimes marriage is a technicality, he says. You believe him, you follow your heart, and you enjoy the hours, the days, the weeks and months of new-love bliss that follow. You open the door, and the deputy hands you a pile of documents.

It starts with passion.

Welcome to the land of criminal conversation and alienation of affections. Those two causes of action—or grounds to sue a person--have been abolished in most states, however North Carolina is one of a handful of states that still allow jilted spouses to sue the paramours of their mates for criminal conversation and alienation of affections.

A spouse has a legal right to enjoy the service and companionship of a mate, and if you steal that away—so to speak—the spouse can sue you for damages. An alienation of affections action works the same way. The spouse of a married paramour sues you for alienating his affections away from his wife and, instead, towards you.

6 logical reasons why you should never date a married person

You are to blame, essentially, for destroying a marriage, and you can be made to pay big bucks for it. In recent years, juries in North Carolina have awarded jilted spouses millions of dollars in criminal conversation and alienation of affections actions.

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In order for a jilted spouse to succeed in an alienation of affections action, she must prove that—before you entered the picture—she enjoyed a loving and healthy marital relationship with her husband. In order to prevail in a criminal conversation action, on the other hand, the jilted spouse need only prove that you engaged in sexual relations with her husband during her marriage to him.

If the spouse is successful in her actions against you, you are the one that has to pay up, not the husband.

This is what your affair with a married man will look like

Since courts in North Carolina now recognize same-sex marriages, it is likely that courts will eventually recognize same-sex criminal conversation and alienation of affections actions, although in some actions the traditional definitions of actionable sexual contact may present difficulties for claimants.

In North Carolina, criminal conversation and alienation of affections actions—nicknamed heart-balm claims—are often filed along with or during litigation of a pending divorce case.

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One scenario that may commonly arise, for instance, sees a husband and wife having difficulty agreeing on how much monthly support payable to the wife is appropriate. They also disagree on how to divide their assets.

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Then the wife finds out her husband has a girlfriend. In fact, she learns through his Facebookhe has had the girlfriend for some time. She tells her lawyer, and her lawyer files criminal conversation and alienation of affections actions against the girlfriend and serves them upon her. Now the husband has a legal mess with his wife and a legal mess with his girlfriend, and the wife knows it.

This is called leverage. She has every legal right to do so, assuming the facts as she presents them are true or that it is reasonable, based on what she has seen and heard, to believe they are true.

Can i be sued if i date a married man or woman?

Criminal conversation and alienation of affections actions are unpopular with many lawyers and legislators, and someday the actions may be abolished in North Carolina. As long as these causes of action remain viable, however, separated spouses and those involved in relationships with separated spouses must tread carefully.

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About the author

Submitting a contact form, sending a text message, making a phone call, or leaving a voic does not create an attorney-client relationship. You cannot reason with the unreasonable. Schedule your consultation today. Practice Areas. Family Law and Divorce.

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Heart-balm actions can be used as leverage in divorce cases. Today For a Consultation!


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What and a married man does to you.