Joe: 106.7 WIZN. That’s Van Halen with Dreams, heard Steve Miller, and Jet Airline before that. I’m Joe Vega here with you on your Wednesday rockin’ ride home. Earlier, I was talking about this incredible story in North Carolina of a man who awarded a $750,000 judgment against the man who was sleeping with his ex-wife before they were divorced.
It falls under what’s called a homewrecker law that some states have. And I thought it would be a good subject to discuss with my friend Ben Barry from Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti. You can call them at any time at 1-800-LAW-1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. Ben, hello.
Ben: Joe, how’re you doing?
Joe: So, I brought you on the air, Ben, because I wanted to talk about and get your take on these homewrecker laws.
Ben: Sure. Well, first have no fear, there is not a similar law in Vermont, I should say. There are other things that have…
Joe: The heart rate just went down a little.
Ben: Yeah, don’t worry. Nothing like that in Vermont. Vermont does have a couple of adultery statutes, but they’re largely inapplicable in this particular context. There are some states that have criminal offenses that involve adultery. But in North Carolina, yes, there’s a cause of action for sort of an aggrieved lover or an aggrieved spouse to have a cause of action against the person who their spouse was committing adultery with. In North Carolina, there have been other civil suits of that nature, some with much higher verdicts, actually. So yeah, it happens. They’re also called mother-in-law claims. There is a cause of action.
Ben: Yeah, actually in some states, there’s a cause of action for anybody who interferes with a marriage to the extent that the couple breaks up. And so, there are a couple of states where they call them mother-in-laws because if you have, like, a particularly difficult mother-in-law who convinces her daughter to divorce you, you’ve got a claim against the mother-in-law for interfering in the marriage.
Joe: I would imagine the burden of proof of these are pretty significant.Because, you know, in this case, I mean basically he had a private eye follow his wife around, and he caught them red-handed. So it was pretty easy for him to prove that she was having an affair. But I would imagine, in a lot of these cases, the burden of proof would be pretty difficult.
Ben: Well, it depends. I mean in the civil suit the burden of proof is different than beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case. And usually, a criminal conviction cannot be used in these… adultery statutes cannot be used in the civil case but notwithstanding that particular aspect, usually, it’s a preponderance of the evidence. And so, you just have to have the jury or the judge believe that there’s 51% in your favor.
Joe: So just so we’re clear though. Vermont and New York don’t have these laws?
Ben: Vermont and New York do not have these laws. However, there is a criminal statute on the books in Vermont for…or in New York. I’m sorry. For adultery.
Ben: In Massachusetts as well.
Joe: Did not know that.
Ben: There is a law in the books in Vermont as well, but it has not been used or enforced against two adults who are married and involved in an affair. It’s usually been used in a different context to prevent, actually, family members from having relationships because they’re prohibited from being married, to begin with.
Joe: All right. Well, thanks for the clarification, Ben. Ben Barry from Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti.
Ben: Thank you, Joe.
Joe: Again, you can call Ben at any time at 1-800-LAW-1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. Mel Allen taking over from here. He’s got music from Metallica and Joan Jett next