Alienation of Affection – Under the tenets of ancient English common law, when wives were legally considered the property of their husbands, a jilted husband could sue any man who deliberately broke up his marriage and stole away his wife.
Even as centuries have passed, and society has generally done away with the notion of wives as property, the state of South Dakota has kept a version of that civil law on the books.
The state is one of only seven U.S. states to retain the civil action known as “alienation of affection” in state law.
One element of the tort was argued before the South Dakota Supreme Court in October, though that case is unlikely to result in removal of the law in the state.
Meanwhile, a long-term controversy continues to rage in the South Dakota legal and legislative communities over whether the law is an appropriate way to resolve disputes over third-party involvement in breaking up a marriage and if financial damages should be rewarded as a result.
Read the full story at the Argus Leader.