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How long do I have to file a heart balm claim?

As this blog has discussed previously, North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that recognize so-called heart balm claims. These types of lawsuits, which include the torts of alienation of affection and criminal conversation, allow an aggrieved spouse to seek compensation from their husband or wife’s partner to an extramarital affair.

These sorts of claims can give a Charlotte resident a sense of justice and closure after their marriage gets damaged or even ends because of a third party. They also allow a person to seek compensation as they would after filing other types of torts. This means the compensation for a heart balm claim can include reimbursement for both out-of-pocket costs and non-economic losses, like a person’s emotional distress as a result of the affair.

Those who suspect an affair may have disrupted their marriage and wish to take advantage of North Carolina’s laws need to act relatively quickly, as under North Carolina law, a person has only three years after the affair ends to file a case. Missing this deadline will generally mean that a person is out of luck when it comes to getting compensation from their spouse’s affair partner.

The law restricts these sorts of claims in other ways as well. With respect to the broader “alienation of affection” tort, it is important to remember that a heart balm claim can only be filed against individuals, not businesses or other institutions. Moreover, a person may not file a heart balm claim based on something that happened after the couple started living in separate households in contemplation of a permanent separation or divorce.