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When Love Goes Wrong: Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation

Discovering that your spouse is having an affair is a devastating blow. You might even consider taking legal action, especially if you’re residing in North Carolina, which still recognizes claims for alienation of affection and criminal conversation. But how can you navigate these emotionally charged waters legally? A recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case, Beavers v. McMican, offers some insights that may be helpful for anyone in this unfortunate situation.


Defining Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation


Before diving into the details of the case, it’s essential to understand these terms. Alienation of Affection refers to the intentional acts by a third party to destroy the love and affection between spouses, ultimately leading to the end of the marriage. On the other hand, Criminal Conversation is the legal terminology for adultery; it focuses on illicit sexual acts between your spouse and another person. These are not easy charges to prove, and that’s why consulting with a Greensboro divorce attorney is crucial.


The Twists and Turns of Beavers v. McMican


In this case, the plaintiff filed claims against his ex-wife’s alleged lover (known as the defendant) for both alienation of affection and criminal conversation. The plaintiff had found texts and nude photos on his wife’s phone from a contact saved as “Bestie.” Further scrutiny also revealed a message referring to sexual intercourse. When confronted, the wife admitted to sexual acts, but not intercourse, with this mysterious “Bestie,” later identifying him as “Dustin.” The wife later admitted to having sexual intercourse with someone from her workplace, but never revealed whether it was with “Dustin”.


The plaintiff and his wife separated in December 2016. By April 2017, the wife was openly dating one of her co-workers, the defendant. While there were texts and calls exchanged between the wife and defendant prior to the separation, no direct evidence indicated a romantic involvement before April 2017. Consequently, the trial court granted the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, citing a lack of sufficient evidence. The plaintiff appealed, and the Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s decision.


The Court of Appeals’ Perspective


According to the Court of Appeals, even the evidence of friendship and frequent communication between the wife and defendant could be enough to convince a jury that the defendant might indeed be “Bestie,” or at least the person with whom she admitted having sexual intercourse. This case reveals that sometimes, even seemingly innocuous pieces of evidence could be crucial.


Judge Jackson issued a dissenting opinion, stating that these types of torts should be abolished, and that summary judgment was appropriate. In his view, the fact that the wife and defendant openly dated after separation wasn’t enough to prove that an affair had occurred before then.


What Does This Mean for You?


If you find yourself in a situation similar to the plaintiff, don’t lose hope. Courts may be willing to consider various types of evidence, even if they seem insufficient at first glance. This case exemplifies the nuances and complexities involved in alienation of affection and criminal conversation claims.


Schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney at Woodruff Family Law Group. You don’t have to navigate this emotional and legal maze alone; let a skilled Greensboro divorce attorney guide you through the intricacies of your situation to seek the justice you deserve.