There are lots of things that can get you angry and upset but don't give you legal recourse. But when a person finds out that his or her spouse is cheating, there's a natural reaction to want to take everything from them. It may surprise some, but in some states it may be possible to sue your spouse or the person your spouse cheated with for having an affair.
If your spouse is cheating on you and you're considering getting a divorce, an attorney might be able to help you. A divorce lawyer can be a great resource to help you learn about your rights under your state's laws. If you'd like to connect with an attorney in your area today, just fill out the short form below.
One of the more common ways that one spouse can receive compensation for the infidelity of the other is with a prenuptial agreement.
It isn't uncommon for a prenuptial to have a provision that treats a spouse guilty of infidelity more harshly than if other causes lead to the end of the marriage.
Even if you don't have a prenuptial agreement, there may be laws in your state that allow you to file a lawsuit against an unfaithful spouse.
Not long ago, a woman in North Carolina managed to sue her husband's alleged mistress for a significant amount of money. In 2010, Cynthia Shackelford, 60, sued Anne Lundquist, 49, under an old law called "alienation of affections." This law dates back to when a woman was considered legal property of her husband. Essentially, Ms. Shackelford was able to recover for her loss of her relationship with her husband.
In this case, the jury awarded Ms. Shackelford $5 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages. Compensatory damages are easiest to think of as replacing what was taken or damaged - in this case, $5 million for loss of the relationship. The punitive damages are more like a punishment to the wrong-doer. This means that the $4 million was essentially like a fine for Ms. Lundquist for having an affair with a married man.
Laws like these are not very common any more, and after a notable case like this, many states have begun putting further limits on alienation of affections laws. But if you are getting a divorce because your spouse was unfaithful, then it might be worth looking into thedivorce laws in your state to see if there is a valid statute like this on the books.
There can be many small quirks in the law that can have relatively large impacts on how your situation will be resolved. That is one of the reasons why diligent research into the law can be a valuable asset to you in a divorce and other areas of the law. It's always better to be over-prepared for court than under-prepared.
The divorce process can be difficult and emotional, especially if your spouse has been unfaithful. If you are going through a divorce, it's important to be aware of all of your legal rights, and how to best protect them.
You can get help from a divorce lawyer in your area. Simply fill out the case review form on this page and we can help you get in touch with a local attorney for your initial consultation.