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The Truth Behind Alienation of Affection Lawsuits

By May 11, 2021Family Law
FIVE BIGGEST MISTAKES YOU MAKE IN DIVORCE | Coil Law

Alienation of affection is a civil lawsuit that you can file if you believe that someone was the main cause of your spouse cheating on you, therefore destroying the confines and sanctity of your marriage. There are only a few states that allow for these types of lawsuits, with Utah being one of them. Most states have gotten rid of this because being able to determine if the alienating person was the sole and main cause of the breakdown of the marriage is too difficult to ascertain. 

In 99% of these cases, you are going to find that the marriage already had strained and, therefore, a jury cannot completely blame the other person for loss of consortium. But because Utah law still allows for this civil lawsuit, my firm gets calls all the time about this. However, before you call my firm, think about the following issues: 

  1. Alienation of affection suits is a civil tort claim that would need to be litigated by a civil litigator. While I am an amazing domestic litigator, I do not do civil litigation.  As a divorce attorney, I will never take cases in front of a jury.  But in civil litigation cases, you have the choice to do so.  Therefore, these cases should be represented by someone who has tons of experience in this field.  If a divorce attorney tells you they can take the case, I would be asking the following questions: 
    1. How many of these cases have you taken to a jury?
    2. How many of these cases have you won?
    3. What is the percentage of your practice that does domestic vs. civil litigation?
  2. These civil claims are filed in the district court to be litigated in front of the judges.  Though as a divorce attorney I argue and litigate in front of the judges quite often, most of the time our efforts are in front of the domestic commissioners. Therefore, the rules of procedures between domestic litigation and civil litigation are different. 
  3. You won’t find many attorneys that will take these cases because they are hard, tenuous, and a long shot to win.  If you are wanting to file this suit, finding an attorney that understands civil litigation is important, and get ready to spend lots of money with a low chance of winning.  
  4. When people call me to talk about the alienation of affection suit, usually they are in the denial stage of grief, and a divorce is imminent, but they do not want to admit it.  Usually, the alienation of affection suits go nowhere but a divorce does.  Therefore, it might be a great idea to hire my firm to represent you for your divorce, as this is what I do, and we can protect you, your future, and your family.  I would also suggest you find a therapist to help you get through the grief cycle since the death of a marriage is traumatic. 
  5. Even if you decide you don’t want to do an alienation of affection suit, you can in your divorce claim that the reason for the divorce is fault-based on a sexual affair.  You have to prove the affair was sexual in nature and that it was the main cause of the breakdown of the marriage. (I won the Supreme Court case allowing this argument to happen and be awarded.) Pursuant to Utah Law, this can help in the length and/or amount of alimony you may receive or pay.  

I know that when your spouse cheats on you it is emotional and hard. It makes sense you are angry and want to punish not only your spouse but also the person with who they cheated. But, I want to help you understand that it takes two people to cheat. It rarely is just one person, and therefore, most likely your case will not rise to the level of alienation of affection suit. 

Nonetheless, that is why Utah still allows these cases because there are those rare cases. I can help you with the realities of this situation and what you can do to protect yourself and your family. Whether you decide to hire a civil litigator and pursue an alienation of affection suit, or if you decide to hire a divorce attorney and start the process, I would suggest getting a good therapist. You are worthy of healing, help, and happiness. And when you are ready for the divorce bulldog, call Coillaw.  

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