Can I be sued for adultery?

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Can I be sued for adultery?

I am in NY and he is in SC. His wife has filed for adultery and has threatened to subpoena me to court for adultery. What are my options and what should I expect? Can I have to go to SC to a court proceeding? What can be done to me? Can I plead the fifth? There is no proof of sex, no pictures. Just an e-mail.

Asked on March 8, 2011 under Family Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The good news is that only a very few states--and it does not appear that NY and SC are among them--allow lawsuits for "alienation of affection," so you most likely can't be sued.

The bad news is that you can be made to testify in a divorce proceeding--you are obviously a material (or relevant witness). You don't have to testify unless subpoened, but if subpoened, you will have to. You may be able to have the deposition conduct in NY and/or receive some compensation for travel if subpoened--that's something to inquire of the court if it comes to this. The Fifth Amendment only applies to criminal liability--so you can refuse to testify to something that might result in criminal charges or conviction (e.g. drug use or tax fraud), but does not apply to other testimony, such as whether you had sex with someone. And testimony can be enough proof, if its convincing; there is no absolute need for pictures, videos, etc.


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