Can I sue the other woman for destroying my marriage?
It is hard to describe the anguish of going through a separation or divorce after several years of marriage. While only a few states allow people to sue others for destroying their marriage, it is one of the best ways for divorced spouses to get closure and move on with their lives. In the states that allow you to sue a third party for ruining your marriage, you can do so through any of two civil tort actions: criminal conversation or alienation of affection.
It is a civil claim for adultery, also known as seduction. These claims were historically referred to as heart balm torts. A balm can heal or soothe pain. These torts are meant to offer a balm for the heart ache caused by a person’s actions that impacted another person’s marriage. Historically, these torts were civil wrongs derived from laws that considered a wife the property of her husband. These claims could only be made by men and allowed them to sue the man who deprived them conjugal relations with their property.
Currently, in the states where these actions are allowed, a woman can sue another woman or third party who ruined her marriage. The injured spouse can demand for money damages from the defendant based on mental anguish, loss of consortium, injury to health, humiliation, and loss of support. In some cases, you may even be entitled to recover punitive damages.
To succeed in a criminal conversation claim you need to have solid proof of your spouse’s infidelity with the other woman. You must prove the following:
- You were in a legal marriage
- Your spouse and the defendant actually had sexual relations
- The sexual relationship occurred in the course of your marriage, not after you got separated
- The adulterous acts occurred within the statute of limitations in the state where you are filing a claim- For example, some states require you to file a lawsuit within a period of three years from the time of the last act of adultery
Alienation of Affection
The other way you can sue the other woman for ruining your marriage is through the legal concept of alienation of affection. With this tort claim, there is no need to prove your spouse’s infidelity. The main basis of this claim is that the other woman’s conduct caused alienation.
Alienation of affection claims can also be brought against any persons who contribute to a marriage breakup. These include therapists, counselors, priests, and family members who advised your spouse to end their marriage.
To prove that there was alienation of affection, you should show:
- You were in a genuinely happy marriage
- The love and affection you shared with your spouse was destroyed
- The third party’s malicious and wrongful acts directly caused this alienation and you were gravely affected
The damages for alienation of affection are similar to those given for criminal conversation: mental anguish, loss of consortium, lack of financial support, humiliation, and injury to health.
The Take Away
Letting go of a long term partner after a divorce can be difficult. One of the measures that provide healing to a person after a divorce is suing the other woman who destroyed their marriage. There are a few states that allow these claims under criminal conversation and alienation of affection standards. Before you attempt to sue another woman for ending your marriage, consult a lawyer for advice on the laws of your state and whether this is a viable legal option.