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Divorce Resources for Women

Your Alienation of Affection Lawsuit: How Much Will You Win?

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Alienation of affection, or the claim that an intervening adulterer has ruined your marriage, is a remnant of an older perspective on marriage. Today, this legal right remains in only a few states, North Carolina being one of the last to hear these claims. If you are going through a divorce due to your spouse’s affair, you may be considering an alienation of affection lawsuit against the person with whom your spouse cheated on you with.

Many people have one question on their mind when considering an alienation of affection claim: “What can I expect to receive if I win?”. This is a very valid question, yet a difficult one to answer. Perhaps you have read the headlines, “$8.8 million ‘alienation of affection’ penalty”, “Wake judge awards $30 million in alienation of affection lawsuit” or you have seen from our literature the other outcomes ranging from $4,802 to $1.4 million and beyond. There have also been cases where judges award very small amounts, even as low as a mere $1 in damages. It is important to note that million dollar cases are not the normal pay-out.

With such a vast range of verdicts, you may be left unsure of how
to project your damages in the event you win. While there is not a concrete
formula or equation for this calculation, there are factors that make it more
or less likely for you to receive a larger amount for your damages.

The jury
decides the amount

One reason verdicts are hard to predict is because these cases are often decided by a jury rather than a judge. While you can request any amount you desire, the amount awarded is entirely up to the jury. Juries are free to consider all the facts of the case and the parties to the alienation of affection lawsuit. But juries also acknowledge the antiquated nature of this legal cause of action. From a moral perspective, a jury may feel it unjust or wrong to impose such large fines even if everyone agrees as a society that affairs and marriage-crashing are immoral.

status and intent of the paramour

The jury takes all the circumstances and facts into consideration,
including the social standing of the paramour, their intentions, and their
state of mind regarding the affair. You are more likely to have a strong and
successful case if your spouse’s lover happens to be a sleazy billionaire who
purposely tried to break up your marriage. Conversely, you may receive little
or no payout if the paramour is a struggling single parent.

The net
worth of the paramour

It seems logical to assume the sleazy billionaire has more income than the struggling single parent. Your award would likely be more if the paramour has more to give. Of course, there is no chart or graph plotting exactly how much you would receive based on income brackets and the jury may still consider the other factors in your case. For example, imagine the billionaire mentioned above was a well-known philanthropist who was kind to everyone they met and that your spouse pursued the relationship with them, telling them they planned to break things off with you. Just because they have the capacity to pay a $20 million sum of damages in an alienation of affection lawsuit does not mean the jury will reach this verdict.

One final

Even with all of this information seeming to be on your side,
there is one issue with alienation of affection that makes it impossible to
predict how much you can expect to be awarded for winning such a case. The fact
of the matter is that most alienation of affection lawsuits end up being
settled outside of court. This is because most people do not want this
information to be made public. As a result, there is not a standard amount
expected to be won from these cases. It is also very likely that your case may
be in a similar position, where the paramour or your spouse will be more likely
to offer a deal to keep the case from going to court. For this reason, you
should always consult with a lawyer before pursuing one of these cases or
bringing up the evidence to your spouse or the third party involved with them.


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