Adultery may be considered a crime in Mississippi. It is defined as sexual intercourse with person of the opposite sex not your spouse.
Alienation of Affection (AOA) is a separate claim, known as a common law tort. A tort is a civil wrong, as opposed to a criminal wrong. AOA is rooted in case law and provides an equitable remedy and its intent is to protect marriages.
AOA allows the wronged spouse to sue the “significant other” of the guilty spouse for the breakdown of the marriage. There are only 6 states in the country that still recognize AOA, but Mississippi is one of them and in the 1990’s our appellate Courts reaffirmed AOA as alive and well in the Mississippi legal system.
Alienation of Affection requires;
1) Wrongful Conduct (ie: adultery, though not required), 2) Loss of Affections, and 3) a Causal Connection be shown between the Wrongful Conduct and Loss of Affection. All 3 must be present for a viable claim. There is a 3 year statute of limitations in which to bring the claim, beginning when the loss of affection is finally accomplished.
*As an aside, North Carolina recognizes Alienation of Affection and a separate tort called “Criminal Conversation” which only requires proof of sex with a married person for the “significant other” to be liable for damages. It does not require loss of affections, causal connection or even a real relationship.
So what is the take away here? Just because you are not married does not mean you are free to have an affair. You will be a material witness in the divorce case, could be subject to criminal prosecution and stand a pretty good chance of getting sued. And if you go to North Carolina, you better behave.
Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that can handle your divorce or alienation matter and warns persons about visiting North Carolina.
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