Can Californians file an alienation of affection lawsuit?

Many marriages break up because of the involvement of a third party. Maybe there is an overly-influential in-law or a jealous ex looking to destroy a relationship. In many cases, however, this third party is a person with whom a spouse is having an extramarital affair.

These outside relationships can seriously poison a marriage. In fact, they can hurt a relationship so much so that the spouse involved in the relationship ends up alienating a husband or wife, causing the demise of the marital relationship. In some cases, the jilted spouse may have grounds to pursue an alienation of affection claim.

These claims are not permitted in California. However, as one recent news story shows, it may be possible to pursue a claim in one of the seven states that still recognize these types of claims to be heard under certain circumstances.

This appears to be the route that the ex-wife of professional golfer John Daly is taking in the aftermath of the couple's divorce. Reports indicate that the couple divorced in 2007, but before then, Daly was having an affair with a woman who is now his fiancée. Now his ex is filing an alienation of affection lawsuit against the fiancée in Mississippi.

The main dispute in this case centers on the fact that no one involved -- including Daly, his ex or his fiancée -- lives in Mississippi. However, the state Supreme Court allowed the case to pursue because of the argument that the extramarital relationship occurred in Mississippi. Daly's fiancée is appealing this decision, however.

It will be very interesting to see what happens in this case and how or if the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on this issue. If the fiancée's appeal is denied, it could mean that spouses in California may have grounds to pursue similar lawsuits in other states, as long as the relationship responsible for the failure of a marriage took place in one of those states. We will continue to follow this for any important developments that may affect Californians going through a divorce.

Source: BayouBuzz, "Daly's fiancee asks US Supreme Court toss alienation of affection lawsuit by ex-wife," May 12, 2015

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