What is “alienation of affection?”

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Friday, June 8, 2018.

Of all of the elements that can contribute to a divorce, infidelity might be the most difficult to deal with. Your disappointment in your spouse for allowing another in Springfield to come between the two of you is understandable. Those raw feelings may be matched only by the anger that you feel towards the person with whom he or she had (or has) a relationship. This anger might even prompt you to question whether or not there might be legal recourse that allow you to hold that person responsible for contributing to the end of your marriage.

A legal principle does indeed exist known as “alienation of affection.” Such a claim allows people to seek damages from third parties over the loss of affection they enjoyed through their marriages. Typically, those third parties are their spouses’ lovers, yet action under this principle can also be brought against in-laws, friends or even relationship therapists.

Unfortunately, Missouri no longer recognizes the validity of its former alienation of affection law. In a State Supreme Court ruling in 2003, the high court struck down the law, saying that it was based on antiquated legal principles with no application in today’s world. That is not to say, however, that your spouse’s infidelity will have not have any impact on the outcome on your divorce proceedings.

When contemplating issues such as property division or the awarding of alimony, the court will indeed consider each side’s contribution to the end of a marriage. In your case, your spouse’s actions could potentially end up costing him or her by having to relinquish his or her claim for certain marital assets, or by having to assume more of your shared debts or pay a higher amount in alimony.

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