ALIENATION OF AFFECTIONS

alienation of affections. A tort claim for willful or malicious interference with a marriage by a third party without justification or excuse. • Where the cause of action still exists, the elements are (1) some wrongful conduct by the defendant with the plaintiff’s spouse, (2) the loss of affection or loss of consortium of the plaintiff’s spouse, and (3) a causal relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the loss of consortium. Heartbalm statutes in 26 states and the District of Columbia have now abolished in whole or in part suits for alienation of affections. But the doctrine thrives elsewhere. For example, a North Carolina court has upheld a $1 million award to an ex-wife who filed an alienation-of-affections action against her ex-husband’s new wife. Hutelmyer v. Cox, 514 S.E.2d 554 (N.C. Ct. App. 1999). See CONSORTIUM; HEARTBALM STATUTE. [Cases: Husband and Wife 322–337.]