Can I Sue Over Emotional Distress for Cheating?

a wooden cross on a wall

When a spouse cheats on you, the psychological and emotional effects can be devastating. Only a few life events can be considered more stressful than cheating and the divorce that so often results, and it’s natural to wonder whether it’s possible to be compensated in some way for the pain and suffering unfaithfulness brings. In New Mexico, there are options open to you as an aggrieved party.

Make Sure Of Your Ground

Before you start any legal process, you must be absolutely sure of where you stand. Are they cheating? You must know for certain. It’s possible to misinterpret the clues you think you’re seeing. 

More importantly, finding out for certain whether your spouse is cheating, and with whom, may also turn up legal evidence that you can use in divorce proceedings or in a personal injury lawsuit.

Understand State Law

There are six states where you are permitted to sue for alienation of affection or criminal conversation if your spouse has been cheating, and New Mexico is one. In New Mexico, you can seek damages for mental anguish, public humiliation, injury to health, and loss of support. 

If the cheating ends in divorce, you also have a claim for loss of wages to your household, especially if there are children involved.

Alienation Of Affection

The courts define alienation of affection as a third-party interfering with the love between spouses in a way that causes irreparable harm. To prove this has happened in your case, you must be able to show that the third party acted maliciously and that you sustained damage because of that action. 

Criminal Conversation

If you have a legal marriage, and it a third party engaged in sexual relations with your spouse at some point during that marriage, that is all it takes to prove criminal conversation. 

This does not require as much proof as alienation of affection, but you also don’t usually get as much compensation as you would if you could prove alienation of affection. Be aware that you cannot sue your spouse’s employer, a motel, a gentlemen’s club, or any similar entity for criminal conversation.

Get Legal Help

If you think you have a case against the person your spouse was chatting with, one of your first steps should be to consult with personal injury attorneys in New Mexico with experience in these types of cases. 

You will need expert legal help in order to prove your claim, fulfill all requirements from the court system, and negotiate with the third party to settle out of court, if possible. A legal expert can also help you understand what you need to prove your case and get the best possible outcome.

Gather Evidence

You will need evidence that the affair took place, but you also need evidence that your marriage is legitimate and that it suffered irreparable harm because of your spouse’s cheating. 

The evidence you need could include emails, recorded phone conversations, receipts from visits to hotels, or evidence you collect from your spouse’s work if they claimed to be at work when they were really visiting a mistress. In some cases, testimony from witnesses can be helpful, but only if they have first-hand information about the affair.

Understand What You’ll Face

There are several defenses the person you’re suing could use in court. The most common defense is to claim they had no idea your spouse was married when they began the affair. Be sure to look for evidence to the contrary. Even a text from your spouse referencing you in some way could be enough.

Another common defense is to claim that they were not the initiator in the relationship and that it all happened “by chance.” The third-party may also try to claim that there was no love in your marriage at the time of the affair, and this could limit the damages you receive. Gathering evidence in advance to refute these claims is the best way to realize a good outcome.