Relationships can become very difficult if one of the spouses cheated on the other. In many cases, adultery could even end the relationship. Historically, victims of adultery had the right to take legal action against their spouse and the person that their spouse cheated on them with. What are the current laws in California? Can you sue your wife’s lover if she cheated on you? The Ventura family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain.
Can You Sue Your Wife’s Lover for an Affair in California?
In the past – and in certain states even today – you could sue someone who tried to take your spouse away from you. In some states, these are known as “heart balm” laws, since they are intended to soothe a broken heart. “Alienation of affections” and “criminal conversation” were the names of the two primary causes of action for affairs and adultery.
Criminal conversation was typically filed by a man whose wife cheated on him against the man she cheated with. Alienation of affections could be used against any defendant, regardless of gender. Alienation of affections was also broader and could apply to any bad conduct that contributed to the divorce or reduced the love between the married couple. This could include non-sexual interference, such as interfering with the marriage by giving malicious advice that they should get divorced.
In all but a few states in the United States, these causes of action were abolished a long time ago. That means that in California, you cannot file any of these lawsuits against your wife’s lover for an affair. Because each state controls the lawsuits you can file in that state and because the conduct typically must occur within the state you’re filing in, you cannot file a lawsuit for an affair in California in another state’s court, either.
Can You Sue Your Wife for Adultery?
If you cannot sue your wife’s lover, is there anything you can do to sue your wife for adultery? Again, there are traditional laws that might have let you sue your wife, but these laws are abolished in California.
In some states today, you can file for divorce based on adultery. This type of “fault” divorce allows you to accuse your spouse of cheating on you, and the court will grant your divorce if you can prove the adultery. In California, there are no “fault” grounds for divorce.
Instead, all California divorces are “no-fault” divorces based on “irreconcilable differences.” This means that there is no need to prove any fault like adultery when suing for divorce, and you can get a divorce granted essentially because you do not want to be married anymore. If you were cheated on, you can file for divorce, but the case is actually simplified because you do not need to prove the cheating to get the divorce. Moreover, while you may file for divorce because of the cheating, it actually does not need to be brought up in the divorce proceedings and would not be considered a legal element of the divorce case.
Suing Your Spouse’s Lover for STDs Other Harm in California
Just because you cannot sue your wife’s lover for having an affair does not mean you can’t sue them for other issues. If your wife brought a lover into your bed and this caused disagreements, violence, or other harm, you may be entitled to sue for other causes of action.
One way you could be able to sue your wife’s lover is if you contracted an STD because of the wife’s affair. If the person your wife had an affair with knew that they had a sexually transmitted disease, they should have known that that could put your wife at risk for contracting the disease. Moreover, if they knew that your wife was married, they should have known that your wife might pass the disease on to you, her spouse, as well. Failing to warn your wife about the STD and failing to warn you can be risky, and you might have grounds to sue your wife’s lover if you contracted an STD because of her affair.
Confrontations about the affair can often become aggressive and violent. If you walked in on your wife with someone else, you may be justified in anger. However, that person has no right to cause you any physical harm or damage to your property. This could give you grounds to sue for assault and battery or to sue for other harms you suffered.
Other unreasonable actions, stalking, threats, or harm to your children are also unacceptable and might be grounds for a lawsuit. Talk to a lawyer for help filing for protection from abuse (even as a man) and seeking compensation for any injuries you faced because of violence or other outrageous behavior related to an affair. You may also be able to sue your spouse as a participant in any violence or other violations.
Call Our Ventura Family Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If your wife cheated on you, you may not have grounds to file a lawsuit against her or her lover unless physical violence or other dangerous circumstances resulted from the affair. However, you still have the right to file for divorce and end your marriage if your wife cheated on you. For a free legal consultation on your divorce case, call the Ventura family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our lawyers offer free legal consultations to husbands and wives seeking divorce as well as personal injury victims. To set up your free legal consultation, call (805) 643-5555.