Alienation of Affections Claims During Divorce

2 hands and a heartA claim of alienation of affections is a civil lawsuit against your unfaithful spouse’s paramour. The allegations: your spouse and you shared a mutual love; however, the paramour engaged in a deliberate course of conduct intended to alienate the affections of your spouse; and as a direct result of the paramour’s conduct, your spouse’s affections were alienated from you.

Illinois is one of the few states that still allows for these lawsuits under the Alienations of Affections Act, 740 ILCS 5/1. They are not common and highly unfavored lawsuits. The Court expressly states that the purpose of these claims is not to compensate the plaintiff for pain, suffering, humiliation, or to exact revenge. The plaintiff can only recover actual damages. For example, if a husband left his wife and used to regularly pay the household bills, the wife’s actual damages may be the total amount of the household bills multiplied by the number of months the husband has been gone.

As you can imagine, it is very hard to prove that your spouse was “lured away” and that there was a mutual love in the relationship from the start. What distinguishes a regular cheating spouse from one who is a victim of “alienation”? Proving actual damages can be very difficult too. What if is a housewife who is lured away? How do quantify the amount of damages the husband lost if she contributed no income to the marriage?

If a spouse files an Alienation of Affections claim, the case is filed in the Municipal Division, a division separate from the divorce case. It is an entirely different matter. The odds of prevailing in court are relatively slim.  At a minimum, you will frustrate and inconvenience your spouse and his or her paramour by filing this claim.

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