What are my rights if my husband had an affair with a colleague and since then my life and the lives of our 2 young children have been ruined?

I very much want to expose their affair on websites and her picture online. Is it legal? Could she retaliate by suing for slander, libel, and/or defamation of characters? They rented an apartment together and I do have the lease as proof.

Asked on December 9, 2013 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

What you suggest is a bad idea. If do what you suggest, there is a good chance they will sue you for defamation. If they do, then even if you win (such as by proving that everything you said or wrote is the truth, since the truth is defense to defamation), you still "lose": you had to spend time and money defending yourself in a public forum. Much better would be to speak with an experienced divorce/family law attorney about possibly divorcing him and getting a good settlement or support for yourself and your children.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

 

An alienation of affection lawsuit is one in which a deserted spouse can sue the alleged third party if his or her partner leaves the relationship for another person and causes the marital relationship to fail. To prevail on the claim, the plaintiff needs to prove that:

  • Love between the married spouses existed prior to the onset of the relationship; and
  • The marital love was alienated and destroyed as a result of the relationship with the third-party; and
  • The third party’s conduct was a malicious interference with the marital relationship.

The plaintiff need not prove that the third party set out to destroy the marriage. It is enough to show that she or he engaged in conduct that was foreseeable to impact the relationship in a negative manner.

The defendant in these cases can protect him or herself from the claim through several recognized defenses including:

  • The Defendant lacked knowledge of the spouse’s marital status
  • The Defendant was not the aggressor in the relationship with the spouse.
  • The Plaintiff’s spouse was so unhappy in the marital relationship that it negated the love between the married spouses.

And, it turns out, adulterous homewreckers aren’t the only ones that need to fear these suits in the eight states that still recognize them because the deserted spouse does not need to prove extramarital sexual contact. The defendant in an alienation of affections suit is typically an adulterous spouse’s lover; however, family members, counselors, therapists or clergy members who have advised a spouse to seek divorce may also be named in such suits.


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