Ex-wife wins $500K in suit against new wife

by Walter Olson on June 17, 2009

North Carolina’s alienation of affection law strikes again. [WRAL via Lawyers USA; earlier]

More from commenter “spudbeach”: “I am _sooo_ glad that I live in Wisconsin. Not only are alienation of affection lawsuits not allowed, it is actually illegal to even threaten one! Wisc. Stats. 768.03 makes it illegal to threaten, and 768.07 sets the penalty to $10,000 fine and/or 9 months in jail.” And XRLQ observes that these laws (still on the books in Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Utah, as well as North Carolina) could impose liability not just on paramours, but on plain old friends or acquaintances who’d encouraged an unhappy spouse to leave a marriage. Yet more: Robinette, 2007 (via); The Briefcase.

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damnum absque injuria » Judicial Hellhole Hath No Fury Like A Tarheel Scorned
06.18.09 at 7:30 am

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1 spudbeach 06.17.09 at 10:46 am

I am _sooo_ glad that I live in Wisconsin. Not only are alienation of affection lawsuits not allowed, it is actually illegal to even threaten one! Wisc. Stats. 768.03 makes it illegal to threaten, and 768.07 sets the penalty to $10,000 fine and/or 9 months in jail.

Now if they could get rid of the stupid statutory rape laws that make it illegal for 15 year olds to have sex with anybody . . .

2 nevins 06.17.09 at 10:18 pm

What is so unreasonable about alienation of affection? I’m no lawyer, but is there not some civil situations where a third party inducing others to breach a contract can be under some liability? Marriage is a contract, whether it is defined like Heinlein would as a pure private contract (the pre-nup and nuptual contract rolled into one and binding, complete with severance clauses and the like) or as a statutory matter defined by the state’s legislature.
Let the marriage contract sort it out.

3 Dirk D 06.18.09 at 9:33 pm

I’m no lawyer, but is there not some civil situations where a third party inducing others to breach a contract can be under some liability?

Not really, at least not under general principles for contract law. There may be some random situations where this may happen but I’m not aware of any.

When a contract is breached the damages are usually limited to the value of the contract and only the breaching party is liable.

4 Bob Lipton 06.18.09 at 10:16 pm

Speaking as another non-lawyer, Dirk, it sounds to me as if the value of the ‘breach of contract’ would be covered by property settlement and alimony. Would any lawyer care to comment on this?

Bob

5 Dirk D 06.19.09 at 7:53 am

“Dirk, it sounds to me as if the value of the ‘breach of contract’ would be covered by property settlement and alimony. ”

That is correct and even if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t create a cause of action against a third party. I’m a lawyer, but not a contract lawyer.

6 Dirk D 06.19.09 at 8:12 am

I should also point out that this is not a contract case, it’s a tort case. I was just responding to nevins comment on it being about breach of contract.

Does anyone know if these laws apply only to married couples?

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