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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Heart Balm Statutes


Term Definition Heart Balm Statutes - laws in nine states that allow for the recovery of some or all of the following causes of action: alienation of affection, criminal conversion, break of promise to marry and seduction.
Application in Divorce Heart balm actions make for very nasty court cases, and only nine states -- Illinois, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah -- still permit them. Such actions require the naming of a co-respondent, who generally becomes a defendant in the divorce.

Generally held to be remnants of an earlier time, tort actions based on the idea of "home wrecking," as it is nostalgically called, require that the plaintiff prove the co-respondent’s wrongful conduct; that the plaintiff lost the affection of his or her spouse as a result; and that a causal connection exists between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s loss. This must be done to the standard of preponderance of evidence.

See also Marital Torts

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