A North Carolina man recently won a $750,000 lawsuit against the man who had an affair with his ex-wife, CNN reported.
Kevin Howard, who said his divorce was "the hardest thing I've ever had to face," sued his ex-wife's lover as part of an "alienation of affections" case.
Alienation of affections laws — almost known as "homewrecker laws" — exist in a small number of states, including Hawaii, Illinois and New Mexico, as well as North Carolina. The statue allows a person to sue their spouse for "purposefully interfering with the marital relationship."
Howard's marriage, which lasted 12 years, came to an end after his wife suggested separating, telling him she thought he worked too much. The couple began going to therapy, but Howard grew suspicious and hired a private investigator, who uncovered the affair.
"It was like a punch in the gut because I thought I had this trust for 12 years and love," Howard said.
The man, who was a colleague from work, had intentionally sought out to destroy the couple's marriage, Howard said.
"He came to my house and ate dinner with us. We shared stories we talked about personal lives," he said in the lawsuit.
WITN-TV reported that the defendant initially laughed when he found out about the lawsuit, but the judge ended up ruling against him. Howard said the lawsuit wasn't just about money though — it was also about setting an example for future cases.
"I believe in the sanctity of marriage," he said. "Other families should see what the consequences are to not only breaking the vow to whatever religion you subscribe to, but also your legal responsibilities."
Cindy Mills, Howard's attorney, told CNN cases like these are "very prevalent," estimating she's argued at least 30 during her career. She added that one of her clients received a $5.9 million payout for a similar case in 2010.
"The idea is keeping the marriage sanctified and keeping the family together," Mills said.