August 16, 2013 —
Simon Cowell’s personal life has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks with the revelation that he is expecting a child with Lauren Silverman, who is conspicuously still married to Cowell’s friend, Andrew Silverman. Lauren Silverman initially claimed that she and her husband Andrew had been unhappy in their marriage for some time. However, Andrew Silverman has a far different perspective on the situation. The New York Post reports that when Andrew filed for divorce last month, he cited adultery as the cause for separation. Evidently seeking to prove a point, he named Cowell as a co-respondent in the divorce case. This begs the question; can a person be sued in someone else’s divorce case if that person committed adultery with one of the parties in the divorce? It depends on if your State still enforces the legal theory of alienation of affection.
Alienation of Affection is an archaic legal theory dating back to times when a wife was considered the property of her husband, and it allows the husband to sue the home wrecker who destroyed his marriage. Most states have abolished alienation of affection lawsuits due to their archaic nature. The only states that still enforce it are Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. Proponents in the holdout states say the threat of such legal action helps protect the sanctity of marriage. In addition, because changing the law would require legislative action, many lawmakers are probably not inclined to get it abolished for fear of being branded as ‘pro-cheating’.
In reality, alienation of affection cases are most lucrative when the person who courted another person’s spouse happens to be wealthy. CNN reports that juries in North Carolina have handed out awards in excess of $1 million on multiple occasions, with one woman obtaining a $9 million judgment against her husband’s mistress as recently as 2010 as reported by ABC News. One notable Congressman in Mississippi named Chip Pickering conveniently stepped down from office in 2008, and then shortly thereafter his wife filed an alienation of affection lawsuit against his alleged mistress. Not surprisingly, the case settled with confidentiality agreements in place.
If you live in a state where the archaic alienation of affection law still exists, you’d better beware! Luckily for Simon Cowell, Lauren and Andrew Silverman just settled their divorce case this week, so he is presumably off the hot-seat . . . for now.