Infidelity comes at a price in North Carolina: a man successfully sued his wife’s lover for the crisp sum of $750,000.
Kevin Howard was married to his wife for 12 years. For him, it was sacred, and the split was seismic. ‘It was the hardest thing of ever had to face, it was like someone calling you and telling you that a family member had tragically died,’ he told WITN.
Something had to be done. Fortunately, Howard, from Pitt County, was able to sue the man his ex-wife cheated on him with for ‘alienation of affection’ – and he won, big time.
Check out the local news report below:
Alienation of affection laws, sometimes known as ‘homewrecker’ laws, are still legal forms of action in Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and North Carolina.
According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, the laws allow the spouse to sue someone for ‘purposefully interfering with the marital relationship’ – and that’s exactly what Howard did.
Speaking to CNN, Howard said:
I believe in the sanctity of marriage. Other families should see what the consequences are to not only breaking the vow to whatever religion you subscribe to, but also your legal responsibilities.
It wasn’t just some one-off fling that caused the destruction of Howard’s marriage. After his ex-wife approached him about separating, the couple entered into counselling to try and work through their issues.
Howard was convinced something was askew, so he hired a private investigator to dig deeper – who then uncovered the affair, according to CNN. To make things worse, Howard had considered the man a friend.
Howard explained to WITN:
He was a colleague of hers from work. He came to my house and ate dinner with us. We shared stories we talked about personal lives. I thought this was a friend.
Cindy Mills, Howard’s attorney, said the defendant initially laughed off the case.
Mills told WITN:
I said: ‘Do you find something funny about this process?’ and he said: ‘Yes… I think it’s funny that your client would sue me over this.’
For people who have that perception of this [law], that’s very dangerous… the same person who laughed in that deposition now has a $750,000 judgment against them, so I don’t think he’s laughing now.
Mills has been in law for 30 years. In her career, she’s had around one alienation of affection case every year – her lowest payout was $60,000, while her highest was $5.9 million.
For Howard it wasn’t really about the money – which is good, as it’s unlikely he’ll actually see any of that $750,000. When the defendant can’t pay up, it turns into debt owed and appears on his credit report.
Some US attorneys, like Paul Jenkins, say this shows why the law is archaic and should be abolished in the remaining jurisdictions.
Jenkins told WITN:
Are we backing up the court system for a week or two weeks to have the jury selection, jury trial, and for the plaintiff to spend tens of thousands of dollars to end up getting a piece of paper they’re never going to collect against?
However, Mills argues the laws remain as a deterrent for spouse’s considering cheating. ‘They’re not going anywhere,’ Mills said.
As for Howard, he added: ‘I have scars and I still have a lot of healing to do.’
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.