Q: Hi, I am being sued by my fiance's ex wife for alienation of affection...should I be concerned that I could be at fault?
My fiance was married to this woman at the time we re-connected, however he claimed the marriage was already in a state of decline. His ex-wife has been a stay at home mom for many years, not ever having gainful employment. I have been a very successful doctor, therefore I believe this woman is after my money. Does she have a case against me?
A: Whether or not you will be found at fault depends on the facts of your case. However, alienation of affection is still an intentional tort for which your fiance's ex-wife may sue and recover in Mississippi. If you have not already done so, you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney to review the facts of your case.
The Mississippi Court of Appeals most recently addressed alienation of affection in the case of Fulkerson v. Odom in February 2011. The fact that you provided, which weighs in your favor is that the marriage was already in a state of decline. To successfully defend against this claim, it will be necessary to prove that something or someone other than you caused your fiance to lose affection for his wife. In order to prove her case, your fiance's ex-wife will have to show that you engaged in some wrongful act (such as an extra-marital affair) that caused her husband to lose affection for her.
While she may be after your money, if she can prove this, she may win. As far as how much she could get, it depends on what the jury decides to award as damages, based on such things as loss of society, companionship, aide, physical assistance, sexual relations, homemaking responsibilities, mental and emotional distress, etc.
If she proves her case, she may also be entitled to punitive damages, or damages awarded to punish a defendant for wrongful conduct. In 2007, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed an award of over $754,000 in an alienation of affection lawsuit.
It is impossible to address all of the issues that could impact such a lawsuit here. If you have been sued, or expect that a lawsuit will be served on you, you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney to review all of the facts of your case and assist you in preparing a defense.
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