Have you ever wanted to sue someone you believe broke up your marriage -- a "homewrecker?" Well, in six states -- Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah -- you can.
In those six states, the "Alienation of Affection" claim is an option. The claim has been around since the 17th century in England, KOAT-TV reported, citing The Washington Post. The law was based off the notion that a man “owned” his wife’s affection, and so if someone “stole” it away then they would be legally responsible.
The accuser must prove, through evidence, the third party interfered, KENS-TV reported.
Most states have since done away with the law. In 1992, the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed, according to the Washington Post, that “affection between spouses cannot be owned.”
But for the six states that kept the law, it's still a basis for civil complaints and continues to be used.
In 2011, a woman was forced to pay another woman, who was married, $30 million dollars for reportedly breaking up the marriage, KOAT-TV reported.
As early as the summer of 2018, a man sued another man for a similar issue and the defendant was ordered to pay $8.8 million, KOAT-TV reported.
Whether the law should stay on the books continues to be debated among attorneys.
"Indeed, money can solve a lot of problems. But, can it fix a broken heart? I'm not so sure," attorney Jessica Culver told KENS-TV.
Attorney J. Scott Smith argued, "It's true, money can't fix a broken heart, but...this is the civil justice system, and the only recompense, sometimes, is money. Can't go back in time and flip a time machine and say, 'OK, I'm not going to do this.'"
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