MISSISSIPPI’S ALIENATION OF AFFECTION LAW

What is an alienation of affection claim?

The claim of “alienation of affection” in Mississippi dates back to 1926. According to the Mississippi Supreme Court, you can file an alienation of affection claim if you another person wrongly deprives you of the services, companionship and consortium of your spouse by willfully interfering with your marital  relationship.

While most states have abolished alienation claims, Mississippi continues to allow them based on Mississippi’s public policy of protecting the marriage union. According to the Mississippi Supreme Court, the alienation of affection cause of action protects the marital relationship: (1) by deterring wrongful behavior and (2) by providing redress when another person, through persuasion, enticement, or inducement, causes the marital affection between the spouses to be destroyed.

Proving an alienation of affection claim?

In order to win an alienation of affection claim, the plaintiff must prove:  (1) that the defendant engaged in wrongful conduct; (2) that the plaintiff suffered loss of affection or consortium; and (3) that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of the loss.

Wrongful conduct may be established through evidence of persuasion, enticement, and/or inducement by the defendant.

The common defenses to this claim are: (1) that before the affair, the marital relationship was already beyond repair; and/or (2) that the plaintiff’s spouse actively pursued the defendant, as opposed to the other way around.

The decision as to whether a defendant is liable is made by the jury.

Recoverable Damages?

A successful plaintiff may recover money damages. The jury will be instructed to award an amount that will reasonably compensate the plaintiff for the value of the affection and consortium lost.

In deciding how much to award, the jury can consider the following:  (1) the  loss of society, companionship, love and affection; (2) the loss of aide, services, and physical assistance; (3) the loss of sexual relations; (4)  the loss of participation together in the activities, duties and responsibilities of making a home; (5) any other mental and emotional distress resulting from defendant’s conduct; and (6) any other damages proven to have resulted from any wrongful acts of the defendant.

Insurance Coverage?

Unfortunately, most insurance policies will not pay for an alienation of affection claim.  However, if you are a defendant in an alienation of affection claim, you should review your policies with a lawyer and make a formal request for coverage.

Attorney Fees?

If the jury awards punitive damages, then the plaintiff may also recover reasonable attorney fees and expenses. The defendant usually can only recover their attorney fees only if the case is found to be frivolous.

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