Alienation of Affection Still Recognized in Some States

Mary Zambreno Alienation of Affection Iowa Lawsuit Family Law

Posted on 11/02/2018 at 07:45 AM by Mary Zambreno

A North Carolina man, Keith King, brought a so-called “alienation of affection” claim against a Texas man, Francisco Huizar III – and won, to the tune of almost $9 million.

Keith’s wife, Danielle, had been cheating on him with Francisco, and Keith alleged that Francisco was responsible for breaking up their marriage.  When Keith found out about their affair, he told Francisco to leave his wife alone.  Francisco did not leave his wife alone.  Instead, he booked hotel rooms close to the Kings when they traveled and Keith alleged that made it difficult to reconcile with his wife.  Danielle, however, testified that she had been unhappy in the marriage even before she met Francisco because her husband had been controlling and so probably was in no mood to reconcile.

Keith’s claim included lost household help and childcare.  Because Danielle also worked for his company, King also sued for lost revenue from losing an employee.  His $9 million verdict wasn’t even the largest alienation of affection award in North Carolina.  In a 2011 case, one woman was ordered to pay about $30 million.

Apparently, in addition to North Carolina, there are still a handful of minority states that recognize alienation of affection lawsuits, including Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Utah.  Although each state that continues to recognize this tort has slightly different requirements for a court to review, at common law, the scorned spouse would have to show that love and affection existed between the married couple, that the love and affection was destroyed, and the paramour’s malicious conduct contributed to the loss of affection.

In 2010, the ex-wife of professional golfer John Daly brought an alienation of affection tort in Mississippi against his then-girlfriend, Anna Cladakis.  Cladakis moved to dismiss because none of the defendants in that case lived in Mississippi but the Court ruled that the alienation of affection suit could proceed in Mississippi because the “alleged sexual activity between Cladakis and Daly within the state of Mississippi, which contributed to the breakup of Daly’s marriage with Miller, constituted a tort committed, at least in part, within this state.”

Iowa has not recognized the alienation of affection tort for almost 40 years.  In Funderman v. Mickelson, 304 N.W.2d 790 (Iowa 1981), the Court noted the predicament that juries find themselves when determining whether the marriage breakdown or the paramour’s malicious conduct came first.  In the above North Carolina case, for example, Danielle tried to show that her marriage to Keith was already irretrievably broken by the time she had the affair with Francisco, but that apparently was not sufficiently convincing to that jury. 

[NOTE:  This blog has previously looked at the history of alienation of affection torts in Iowa.  See here for that background.]

Categories: Mary Zambreno, Family Law


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