Alienation of Affections
I saw something on the news recently about a man in North Carolina who was awarded a $750,000.00 judgment against his ex-wife’s boyfriend for a tort called “alienation of affections.” The idea is that the boyfriend caused the jilted husband’s problems and, if not for the boyfriend, the husband and wife would still be married. Obviously the husband is not getting his wife back but, the $750,000.00 is supposed to help him fill that void.
For those of you who think you have a similar claim against a certain someone, if you live in Pennsylvania or 43 other states, you are out of luck. Pennsylvania has something generally referred to as an “Anti-heart balm” statute baring these types of claims. Specifically, 23 Pa.C.S.A. §1901, abolishes claims for alienation of affections and 23 Pa.C.S.A. §1902, bars similar claims for breach a contract to marry. Only North Carolina, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah recognize the cause of action for alienation of affections. Also, remember that judgment for $750,000.00 is a lot different from $750,000.00 in hand. The husband in the North Carolina case still has to collect on that judgment.
Finally, in looking up the Pennsylvania statutes, there was a little surprise. There is an exception to 23 Pa.C.S.A. §1901’s abolition of claims for alienation of affection in the event that the defendant in the case is the parent, brother or sister of the plaintiff’s spouse. So, if your brother-in-law talks your spouse into walking out of your marriage, you still have the right to sue him.