Can I sue the woman my husband cheated on me with for emotional distress?

UPDATED: Mar 24, 2015

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Can I sue the woman my husband cheated on me with for emotional distress?

She was a family friend who knew we were married. She ended up getting pregnant. I have made the choice to stay with my husband but the emotional distress is affecting my job and life.

Asked on March 24, 2015 under Personal Injury, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You *may* have a lawsuit. Your state is one of only seven states in the union which still allow an "alienation of affection" lawsuit against someone who breaks up or destroys an otherwise happy marriage--in the other 33, cheating or otherwise "alientating" a spouse's affection does not result in any potential liability.

However, the crux of the "alientation of affection" lawsuit is the *alientation* of affection--that the marital relationship was essentally destroyed by the other person's actions. It's the loss of the marital relationship which drives the lawsuit and which is compensible. There is no compensation for the emotional upset if the marriage is not significantly or substantially destroyed.

Whether you have a claim depends on the specific facts of your case and what has happened to your marriage. You are advised to speak with a personal injury or family law attorney to discuss your situation in detail.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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