Alienation of Affection


North Carolina is one of the few states that still recognize alienation of affection as a cause of action.  A deserted spouse can pursue an alienation of affection claim against a third party who he or she feels alienated the spouse.  In most cases, the defendant is a cheating spouse’s lover.  Closely related to alienation of affection, but distinct and separate, is the offense of criminal conversation, which seeks damages in connection with the act of sexual intercourse between the guilty spouse and a third party.  Such matters involving liability of a third party for interference in a marriage are often complex and difficult to prove and are best handled by one of our experienced Smith Debnam divorce attorneys.


“The Smith Debnam team helped me to settle my divorce case. They were responsive, prompt, and courteous. They helped me to navigate a complicated process and advocated for what was in my children’s best interests. I found the front desk staff helpful and I could not have asked for a better experience with the divorce itself, all thanks to Smith Debnam.”
– Erin B.


Smith Debnam is Here for You

Here at Smith Debnam, we are proud to advocate for you and your family. To schedule a consultation with a Raleigh alienation of affection attorney at our firm, call  919.250.2000.

Do I need a lawyer?

It is in a person’s best interests to hire an attorney for his or her case, one who is committed to not only educating him or her about rights and obligations, but who is also there to serve as an advocate. A good attorney knows the law inside and out and stays current on updates that may affect the case. A good attorney also knows important deadlines and the proper procedure for filing documents at the court. Many attorneys have good relationships with judges and other attorneys, who can often help an individual’s case.

What are the consequences of marital misconduct?

Marital misconduct can be considered when determining amount or duration of alimony or as a basis for a court-ordered separation.

How much evidence do I need to prove my spouse is having an affair?

It is not necessary to catch the third party and the cheating spouse in the act, but there must be evidence that the unfaithful spouse was inclined toward a sexual relationship with that third party and that the spouse had the opportunity to engage in a sexual relationship with that third party. Email, social media posts, suspicious behavior and statements from coworkers or friends can all be used as evidence of infidelity.

Am I entitled to compensation if my spouse had an affair?

It may be appropriate for a person to pursue the third party with whom his or her spouse had an affair to gain compensation for damages caused by that third party. These damages can include loss of income, loss of companionship of the spouse, and in some cases, medical-related bills.

Is criminal conversation the same thing as alienation of affection?

No, but the two actions are typically intertwined. Criminal conversation is specifically defined as sexual intercourse between a third party and a spouse during the marriage. The grieved spouse must prove that the third party knew about the marriage.

What is alienation of affection?

Alienation of affection is a legal action against a third party who has interfered with a marriage and caused one spouse to suffer a loss.

What if my spouse had an affair?

Extramarital affairs can be considered a form of marital misconduct, which may affect the amount or duration of alimony that a person pays or receives. Sometimes, when extramarital affairs are an issue, lawsuits for alienation of affection and criminal conversation can arise. An attorney can help evaluate whether these actions are appropriate for a specific situation.

What is marital misconduct?

Marital misconduct can include certain acts that occur during the marriage, such as infidelity, abandonment, cruel treatment, verbal or physical abuse, reckless spending or excessive use of drugs or alcohol, among other things.

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