Adultery was once an offense that was frequently addressed and punished in court. Today, an individual is rarely able to initiate a lawsuit on the grounds of adultery. However, if an individual establishes an intimate relationship with a married person, he/she may be accused of alienation of affection, an offense that can warrant a lawsuit in some states.
A few states, including New Mexico, Utah, and Illinois, still permit lawsuits regarding alienation of affection. Therefore, in these states, if an individual can prove that an extramarital relationship destroyed the love between he/she and his/her spouse, he/she can initiate a lawsuit against the offending party. Criminal conversation was a once a popular common law, through which a husband was able to obtain damages from his wife, if there was sufficient evidence that she committed adultery. Today, an injured party can seek a divorce on the grounds of adultery, and he/she may be favored in regard to the division of assets and child custody.