A North Carolina man sued the man his wife had an affair with and won thanks to an old law that is still on the books.
North Carolina is just one of six states that still has an ‘Alienation of Affections’ law, sometimes called homewrecker laws.
A court recently awarded Kevin Howard $750,000 from the man he says stole his wife away from him.
Howard sued after his wife of 12-years had an affair with her coworker.
He blamed the other man for driving apart their relationship.
Howard says, “I filed this case because I believe it’s very important that people understand that sanctity of marriage is important especially in this day and age when people question everyone’s morals, people questions everyone’s liability of a person and the state backed me up on it.”
Under North Carolina’s ‘Alienation of Affection’ law, a case can be brought to the court by a spouse who has been deserted because of the actions of a third party.
The law dates back to the 1850’s, when wives were considered their husband’s personal property.
If the defendant can’t pay the $750,000, it turns into debt owed and appears on his credit report.
That is one of the reasons some attorneys question why the old law is still around.
“Are we backing up the court system for a week or two weeks to have the jury selection, jury trial, and for the plaintiff to spend tens of thousands of dollars to end up getting a piece of paper they’re never going to collect against,” says attorney Paul Jenkins.
Attorney Kellie Gonzalez says the law doesn’t even do what it’s meant to do. “Critics call this law an obsolete method of inflicting morality on society, one of the reasons for the law is to uphold the sanctity of marriage,” says Gonzalez. “Studies have shown that the impacts of this law do not do that.”
North Carolina’s law was struck down in 1984, but the state supreme court reversed that decision.
It’s been challenged several times since, yet remains on the books.