Alienation Of Affections Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Alienation Of Affections, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Alienation Of Affections?

n. belonging to; pertaining to of right. As a legal term is stands for what belongs to and goes with something else, the accessories or things usually conjoined with the substantive matter in question. Generally, if right over other (the servient tenement) property is enjoyed alongside a right over some property (say dominant tenement), and the degree of the usage of such rights is governed by the needs of the dominant tenement, then such right is called appurtenant to the dominant tenement.

History and Meaning of Alienation Of Affections

Alienation of affections is a legal claim that a deserted spouse has against a third party who is responsible for the failure of the marriage. It is based upon the idea that marriage is a relationship that is entitled to special protection under the law, and that an outsider who interferes with that relationship can be held legally responsible.

This type of lawsuit was popular in the United States during the 1800s and early 1900s, but it has since fallen out of favor. Many states have abolished the cause of action, and those that still allow it require the plaintiff to meet a high burden of proof.

Examples of Alienation Of Affections

  1. John filed an alienation of affections lawsuit against his wife's coworker, claiming that the coworker had a romantic relationship with John's wife and caused the breakdown of their marriage.

  2. Jane sued her husband's personal assistant for alienation of affections, alleging that the assistant had a close emotional relationship with her husband and caused him to neglect his responsibilities in their marriage.

  3. In a high-profile case, Elizabeth Edwards filed an alienation of affections lawsuit against her husband's mistress, claiming that the mistress had destroyed her marriage.

Legal Terms Similar to Alienation Of Affections

  1. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: This legal claim applies when someone intentionally causes severe emotional distress to another person, through outrageous or extreme conduct.

  2. Criminal Conversation: This is another outdated legal claim that allowed a spouse to sue a third party for having a sexual relationship with the spouse's partner.

  3. Breach of Promise: This legal claim applied when one party to an engagement broke off the engagement without a justifiable reason. It has also fallen out of favor over time.