My Spouse Cheated on Me.
You notice your spouse is absent for long periods of time. No explanations, money missing from the bank account, a non-existent love life, and the arguments seem to be never-ending. A text from an unknown number lights up on your spouse’s cellphone with the message “I miss you, when will I see you again?” Your stomach drops and you suddenly realize – my spouse is cheating on me. In December of 2011, the Desert News reported a Riverton man filed suit against his wife’s lover alleging “alienation of affection”. The husband sought $1.5 million in damages. According to the lawsuit, the man contended his wife’s affair led to the abandonment of their marriage and children. See http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705396347/Riverton-man-sues-his-wifes-lover-for-15-million.html?pg=all
Alienation of Affection
To pursue a successful action for alienation of affection, you must be able to prove the lover intentionally and actively played a substantial part in inducing or causing one spouse’s loss of the other spouse’s affections. See Restat 2d of Tors, 683 (2nd ed. 1979). The Utah Supreme Court, in Norton v. Macfarlane, stated the purpose of an action alleging alienation of affection is “the protection of the love, society, companionship, and comfort that form the foundation of a marriage and give rise to the unique bonding that occurs in a successful marriage.” Norton v. Macfarlane, 818 P.2d 8 (Utah 1991)
- Likelihood of Success
Only seven states, including Utah, still allow litigants to pursue actions against paramours alleging alienation. See http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/12/08/cheating.spouses.lawsuits/ . Another difficulty is identifying the existence and the strength of the various causative factors that weaken or destroy a marriage. Certainly, extramarital relationships can and do destroy the bonds of mutual trust upon which a sound marriage is founded, but marriages also fail simply because of personal inadequacies of one or both of the spouses. An affair might only be incidental to a more primary cause, such as finances or irreconcilable differences.
As all couples can imagine, an extra-marital affair can cause irreparable damage to not only a spouse but children as well. Before you decide whether you would like to pursue an action of alienation of affection, or even divorce, you should consult with an attorney who can advise you on the best course of action.