Court Cases & Orders

Suing for Alienation of Affection: U.S. Husband Rewarded with $750k

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Suing for Alienation of Affection: U.S.  Husband Rewarded with $750K

In the U.S. there remains six states that allow for suits to be brought under the tort of alienation of affection. This is based on wrongful acts that deprive a married individual from intimacy with their spouse. In Malecek v. Williams the court stated that these suits are designed to remedy a lack of monogamy in a marriage.

Despite some claiming the tort of alienation of affection is a moral remedy of sorts, others have challenged it constitutionality as it can be interpreted to challenge an U.S. citizens First and 14th Amendment rights freedom of expression and engagement in intimate sexual activity. In 2017, a North Carolina Appeals Court determined that the tort was constitutional and ensures the importance of commitment within marriage.

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In Malecek v. Williams the court determined that the wife was in breach of alienation of affection and awarded the husband $750,000 USD. However, commentaries on the decision state it is unlikely the husband will ever receive that amount and the decision is better interpreted as a moral victory.

In Canada similar suits have been brought albeit resulting in different judicial outcomes. In 1962 the Supreme Court of Canada determined in Kungl v. Schiefer that the law of alienation of affection was not to result in any damages awarded. This decision was later confirmed in Frame v. Smith in which the court stated that such domestic matters fall outside the scope of the law.

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