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Alienation of Affection Claims No Longer Recognized by Georgia Courts

Divorce is often a very painful and traumatic event in the lives of both spouses, especially if the divorce was precipitated by adultery. In such cases, it is very common for the aggrieved spouse to have animus not only toward the philandering spouse, but also toward that spouse’s paramour.  Generally, there is no legal recourse an injured spouse can take against the other spouse’s lover. However, there are a few states that do provide broken-hearted individuals the opportunity to seek legal recourse against their spouse’s lovers by filing what are known as alienation of affection lawsuits.

Alienation of affection suits derive their origin from antiquated laws that viewed wives as the property of their husbands. In the event of his wife’s infidelity or injury, the aggrieved husband could seek monetary compensation from his wife’s lover or the individual who caused the injury. Today, in the states that still recognize such suits, alienation of affection lawsuits are generally filed in conjunction with divorce suits in an effort to either recover money from or exact revenge against the romantic interloper. In fact, such suits have the potential to result in significant financial recovery for an aggrieved spouse. For example, juries in North Carolina, one state that allows alienation of affection suits, have awarded spouses damages in excess of $1 million on multiple occasions.

Although it is argued that such suits preserve marriage by discouraging adultery, alienation of affection lawsuits are no longer recognized by Georgia courts. Georgia previously recognized such actions, but the law allowing these action was repealed by the Georgia legislature on April 1, 1979. According to current Georgia law regarding alienation of affection lawsuits: “Adultery, alienation of affections, or criminal conversation with a wife or husband shall not give a right of action to the person’s spouse. Rights of action for adultery, alienation of affections, or criminal conversation are abolished.” O.C.G.A. § 51-1-17.


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