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Illinois divorce may result in alienation of affection lawsuit

When a couple decides to seek a divorce, there can be many reasons why the marriage ended. One common reason is that one spouse is simply no longer in love with the other. But what if one spouse has fallen in love with another person during the course of the marriage?

In an interesting case recently, a woman who believes the breakup of her marriage was the result of an affair has filed a lawsuit against the woman she believes is responsible. In some states it is possible to attempt to collect monetary damages from a third party believed to be responsible for the divorce under a so-called "heart balm law" which, at least in theory, is supposed to heal the injured spouse's broken heart.

Illinois has a similar statute called the "alienation of affection law," in which one spouse can bring a lawsuit against a third part for causing a divorce. In fact, many such cases are brought each year, some of which have resulted in very large verdicts -- some even in the millions.

In order for such a lawsuit to succeed, three elements must be proven:

1. The married couple loved each other at some point during the marriage

2. The third party destroyed that love

3. The third party did so with malice

If you are going through a divorce in Illinois, or if your divorce has already been finalized, it might be possible to file an alienation of affection lawsuit if a third party intentionally destroyed your marital relationship. In the case of a high asset divorce, where the stakes can be much higher, there could be a substantial incentive for one spouse to file such a lawsuit.

Source:, "Loss of love can result in lawsuit," Shavonne Potts, Dec. 29, 2011

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