Visitor Question

Emotional Distress of Extra Marital Affair…

Submitted By: Tammy (Richmond, Virginia)

I just found out that my husband and neighbor (friend) had an affair. She knew that we were married but instead of saying no she let it happen. My husband and I are trying to work things out and even moved from the location. But it is not fair that I have to deal with the emotions that I am dealing with.

My question is: In the state of Virginia can I sue another woman for sleeping with my husband while knowing that he was married?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Tammy,

Tammy:

Although used primarily in divorces where large sums of money are involved, Virginia law does permit a spouse to sue a 3rd person for interfering with their marriage relationship.

Sometimes called a “Paramour,” Virginia law recognizes a spouse’s right to sue a Paramour for monetary damages. In order to do so however a divorce has to be filed.

Once filed the hurt spouse sues the cheating spouse AND the Paramour. It’s a bit complicated but lawyers call it “interpleading”. Naming the Paramour as a co-defendant (called a “Respondent” in divorce cases) is the manner in which the hurt spouse is legally able to bring the Paramour into the actual divorce.

Generally, if you knew your husband committed adultery but continued to live with him, then adultery cannot be used as a ground for your divorce. You would have to rely on additional grounds like mental cruelty. Regardless you can still go ahead suing or “interpleading” the Paramour.

Once you resume living and sleeping with your husband after you learned of the adulterous act, Virginia courts feel you have forgiven, or “condoned,” his adultery.

If your husband starts having affairs again, you can then sue on grounds of adultery. Or, if your husband has had several affairs and you knew of and condoned only one, you may file on adultery regarding the newly discovered affairs.

Beware though, if you interplead the Paramour and your facts are not correct, or even if they are correct but you can’t prove them in court, you may be setting yourself up for a counter-suit by the Paramour. That can be very dangerous, because if you are unable to prove the allegations the Paramour can ask the court to award money damages against you, including court costs and attorney’s fees.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 1, 2011

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