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alienation of affection

Alienation of affection and criminal conversation are potential legal claims or causes of action against a person who committed adultery with your spouse—the paramour or lover with whom your spouse had an affair. These claims are based on the idea that the person with whom your spouse cheated destroyed or alienated the love and affection in your marriage.

Alienation of affection claims are no longer recognized by courts in most states—but Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah do recognize such claims. And in some states that do or do not not recognize such claims, the cheated-on spouse may seek an unequal division of the marital estate based on fault in the breakup of the marriage.

The details of alienation of affection laws (sometimes called heart-balm laws) vary from state to state among the states that do recognize such claims.

In Texas, the claims of alienation of affection and criminal conversation are not recognized by the courts. Texas law does not provide a cause of action against a third party for the breakdown of a marriage due to adultery. While some states may allow for these types of lawsuits, Texas has abolished the right to sue for alienation of affection. However, adultery can still be considered when determining the division of the marital estate during a divorce. Texas is a 'no-fault' divorce state, which means that a divorce can be granted without proving fault, but fault, such as adultery, can be a factor in the division of property. The court may decide on an unequal division of the marital estate if it finds that one spouse's fault, including adultery, led to the end of the marriage.

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