Suing for Love: Dawn

Suing for Love: Dawn

"An old boyfriend's wife sued me for stealing her husband's heart, and then destroyed my life in the process," says


Several years ago, Dawn was separated from her husband and started dating a man whom she had dated in the past. "Unbeknownst to me, he was married," she says. "His wife found out that we were seeing each other, and he had to call me and tell me that he was not really separated and that he wanted to work it out with his wife."

Three or four months after he reunited with his wife, her old flame called Dawn and told her that he had made a mistake, and he wanted to be with her. "I told him he needed to be divorced, or I would never see him again," she reveals.  

In the meantime, Dawn had rekindled the romance with her husband, but she continued to get phone calls from her former lover. "We would talk occasionally. We would e-mail, and we would probably see each other for dinner maybe once a year, but it was strictly platonic," she shares. 

One day, Dawn got a knock at the door that changed her life. "There was a gentleman standing there with a lawsuit for Alienation of Affection," she explains. "This other man's wife was suing me, and she wanted a minimum of $500,000. His wife claimed that they were
getting a divorce, and she was holding me responsible."

Dawn says the lawsuit was the most difficult thing she's had to go through in her life. "It was just a drain on me mentally and emotionally, and I spent almost $50,000 in legal fees," she shares. The woman wanted a minimum of $500,000, but they settled for significantly less. "I just wanted my life back, and it was worth it to me to settle."


"The Alienation of Affection law is ludicrous," Dawn says. "I want Dr. Phil to just raise the awareness of this issue. I want him to help get it publicized, so we can get these laws off the books once and for all."

Dawn points out that when she dated this other man, they lived in separate states. "It wasn't like we got together every weekend or even every other weekend," she explains. "It was sometimes once a month or every six weeks."

"You immediately backed out of it because he wasn't [separated]," Dr. Phil says.

"Exactly," Dawn agrees. "I left him alone."

"When it came time for her to sue you for alienating her husband's affection and thereby, in her theory, causing the divorce, did he lie about the fact that he had lied to you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"The lawsuit came about several years later," Dawn says.

"What does he say about it now?" Dr. Phil probes. "Does he say, ‘She didn't alienate my affection. I lied to her that I was free'?"

"No, he doesn't. He lies to her and tells her, ‘She was the one who was pursuing me and wouldn't leave me alone,'" she says. "So he's lying to both of us."

"Why did you settle?" Dr. Phil asks.

"It was a couple of things," Dawn explains. There were numerous attorney fees. Also, Dawn didn't live in a state with an Alienation of Affection law, but the woman suing lived in a state with such a law on the books, so Dawn had to make frequent trips to that state. "It was just such an emotional toll. It was extremely difficult. I couldn't plan my life. I couldn't go on vacation. I couldn't plan anything. It affected my family. It affected my health. It affected my job."


"So you're talking about it now because you think people should be aware this law is out there, and you think it should be off the books," Dr. Phil says.

"Absolutely," Dawn replies.

"Would you feel that way if somebody stole your husband?"

"Absolutely, because that is my husband's responsibility to me. It is not somebody else's responsibility," Dawn says.

The Dr. Phil show asked viewers on, "If you could, would you sue your spouse's lover for destroying your marriage and stealing his or her heart away from you?"

One respondent says, "I live in the state of California where I cannot sue my husband's mistress. If I could sue

her, I would. I feel it should be a crime to sleep with a married person."

A woman writes, "In the state of North Carolina, I can sue the other woman for alienation of affection. Not out of vindictiveness, but out of accountability, I would like to sue the other woman."


A third respondent writes, "I strongly believe that having consequences would make a person think twice about their marriage, instead of treating it like a New Year's resolution that starts out with full commitment, and with time they find it hard to stick to."

Another viewer writes, "Why can't we sue or press charges to these members of society who disrupt and destroy families?"

To Dawn, Dr. Phil says, "With regard to that last point, what you're saying is that it's not always that clear cut."

"No, it isn't," she agrees.

"You didn't know you were getting in between a husband and his wife," Dr. Phil says.

"That's correct," she says. "Another thing that's really important about this particular law is a plaintiff in one of these cases can hold a third party responsible for so-called alienating that spouse's affection. However, a defendant in the case, as in my case, I could not use the fact that they had prior marital problems. So they're not accountable for any of the problems that they caused in the marriage."

"You certainly have raised the awareness," Dr. Phil tells her.
At the end of the show, Dr. Phil asks the audience, "How many of you, if someone started having an affair with your spouse, would like to have the option to sue that person?"

A few audience members respond.

"How many of would say, 'They're not the problem. It's my spouse who I'm looking to'?"

A majority of the audience claps and cheers.