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Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation

A legal action may be brought against an individual who intrudes upon a marital relationship. Alienation of affection means interfering in such manner as to win away the love of a husband or wife from his or her spouse.  The term ‘criminal conversation’ refers to adultery. Conversation is used to mean sexual relations in this context. These actions were designed to protect the sanctity of marriage and the family relationship. Today, suits for alienation of affection and criminal conversation have been abolished in most states.  States such as, North Carolina, Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah still recognize both alienation of affection and criminal conversation. Remaining forty three states and the District of Columbia have abolished the cause of action for alienation of affection. The states vary widely in the way they deal with this issue: in some states, only one of the two causes of action continues to exist, and thus proof of the claim and/or damages has been significantly curtailed in recent years. None of these reforms has altered the stance favoring such claims in this State.

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