The tort of criminal conversation allowed the wronged spouse to sue the paramour for violation of the right of exclusive sexual access from the marriage. In other words, it was a lawsuit against the third party for sex with their spouse. The tort of alienation of affection was a lawsuit against the paramour for causing their spouse to stop having affections within the marriage. This usually resulted in a divorce as a result of the adultery. It was not uncommon for a lawsuit to allege both alienation of affection and criminal conversation.
In Massachusetts, when cheating occurs in a marriage, the wronged party can no longer sue for damages. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 207, Section 47B prohibits lawsuits for both alienation of affection and criminal conversation. As a result, when cheating occurs in a marriage, the only recourse through the courts is an action for divorce against the spouse.
Cheating in a marriage can be devastating to the innocent spouse. Some couples manage to save their marriage after an affair. Others separate and end the marriage by divorce. When cheating occurs in a marriage, both spouses should consult an experienced family law attorney to determine their rights and understand divorce. Many people need to understand their rights in a divorce before deciding if they want to save their marriage.