Tarheel heartbalm, cont’d

by Walter Olson on November 28, 2006

Newsweek looks at North Carolina’s cottage industry of tort actions by wronged spouses against the cads, hussies and assorted homebreakers who put an end to their domestic felicity (see May 22, 2005, Nov. 16, 2004, and May 18-21, 2000). “Although alienation of affection is rarely invoked in most states, a series of high-profile judgments in North Carolina, including one in 2001 for $2 million, have inspired more than 200 suits annually in recent years. Lawyers say people typically file these claims as leverage in divorce and custody disputes. ‘A wife says I’m going to sue your girlfriend if you don’t give me $50,000 more in property settlement. That’s an improper use of the [law], and it shouldn’t take place,’ says A. Doyle Early Jr., former chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s family law section. … Conservative [i.e., Religious Right] groups like the North Carolina Family Policy Council say the law should stay on the books”. (Julie Scelfo, “Heartbreak’s revenge”, Dec. 4).

{ 5 comments }

1 Supremacy Claus 11.27.06 at 10:52 pm

The Democrat Party lawyer destroyed marriage among the poor in the 1960′s, by their welfare laws making the poor male unnecessary to family welfare.

In the 1990′s, the Repug Party lawyer destroyed marriage among the middle class by making the breach of child support a Federal crime with indeterminate sentences, by forcing states to pass child support formulas with no upper limits. Parasitic middle class spouses now score big child support fortunes by initiating a divorce.

About half divorces have a low conflict. These marriages are salvageable. Any conservative, traditional law that slows the lawyer attack on marriage deserves a second look.

2 Tom T. 11.28.06 at 12:45 am

“A wife says I’m going to sue your girlfriend if you don’t give me $50,000 more in property settlement. That’s an improper use of the [law], and it shouldn’t take place.”

Why is this per se improper? Certainly, there may be plenty of cases where the alienation claim is factually unsupported, but if the facts are there, why is it wrong to settle such a claim in return for a monetary payment? How is that different from settling any cause of action for damages?

3 CEB 11.28.06 at 9:59 am

Tom,
The impropriety seems to be that the wronged spouse is agreeing to not sue party A (the homewrecker) in return for money from party B (the spouse). Lesson: don’t cheat.

SC,
Whatever the (dubious) merits of the points you make, using the terms “Democrat Party” and “Repug Party” make you sound like a complete fool.

4 bob montgomery 11.28.06 at 1:31 pm

Lawyers say people typically file these claims as leverage in divorce and custody disputes. ‘A wife says I’m going to sue your girlfriend if you don’t give me $50,000 more in property settlement. That’s an improper use of the [law], and it shouldn’t take place

I don’t see the impropriety either. Seems like the threat of a lawsuit, or criminal charges, are used all the time. Plea bargains, settlements, etc.

I don’t see how the direction of the threat changes things that much.

5 KAT 11.28.06 at 4:14 pm

The problem is that the law eliminates personal responsibility, making a third party financially responsible for the erring spouse based on highly subjective criteria of what may constitute appropriate behavior towards or around someone who is married. The spouse who cheats is the one who has the duty towards the wronged spouse, not the third party.

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