Sweet Revenge: Suing Your Husbands Mistress

What betrayed wife hasnt thought about getting revenge? Usually the target is the husband, who deserves a tire track on his back. But there is another option. Sue the jerks mistress.

Can money make up for the suffering and humiliation that goes with being a woman scorned? Pause. How much are we talking?

Dr. Lynn Acara of North Carolina recently sued one of her closest friends (double revenge points!) for breaking up her marriage. A judgment of $5.8 million was announced in her favor this September, but with a caveat. The settlement is valid in North Carolina, but not in Maryland, where the former best friend lives. So basically all it does is keep the woman out of North Carolina, a bonus, but not nearly enough to compensate for outright poaching.

Another North Carolina woman, Cynthia Shackelford, won a $9 million lawsuit in March against her husbands alleged mistress for breaking up a 33-year-marriage. A very sensible jury awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages, to be paid by Anne Lundquist, the naughty dean of students at Wells College in Aurora, New York. The recognized expert in student affairs apparently was also an expert in post-graduate fooling around with another womans husband.

Six other states besides North Carolina -- Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah still have an alienation of affection law, but it is mainly litigated in North Carolina. Why? Because conservative legislators there do not want to give their blessing to adultery. This is why former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards was shaking in his boots when Elizabeth Edwards threatened to sue Rielle Hunter before Edwards affair was made public by the National Enquirer.

Why is the state involved in judging adultery in the first place? Leaving out the religious and ethical expectations of a marriage union, the contract of marriage is very clear at the state level: its a privileged business partnership, a for-profit venture. Hey, wouldnt you sue a business partner you caught cheating? But why go after the non-related cheater?Well, just as the drug war situation in Mexico could be eliminated if there was no demand for drugs in the U.S., maybe adultery could be eliminated if women stopped trying to unravel men who had tied the knot. Thats not going to happen. But theres nothing wrong with sending the message that its not nice to come between two state-sanctioned business partners any more than it is to break up a God-ordained married couple. We could require married men to wear orange hunting vests, as well as their wedding rings, to remind other women not to interfere with a protected species. Or we could move to North Carolina, hope our competition is a state resident, and get ready to pop some corks when not only the divorce settlement comes through, but the penalty for husband stealing. Who couldnt use extra cash to refurnish the house, buy a new wardrobe, and take your girlfriends on a fabulous getaway after a divorce?Judy Kirkwood lives in Florida so couldnt sue for alienation of affection.
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