Infidelity is a complicated issue. We see it all the time on TV or in movies, but too many of us experience it in real life as well. It's never as simple as shows would make it out to be. Cheating usually only comes after a relationship has had several issues and a person doesn't know how to work them out.
While hard numbers are difficult to find, many studies report that around 20% of men say that have cheated on a partner and slightly less, but still a significant portion at 13%, of women admit one as well.
When it comes to affairs, there are at least three sides to the story and if you are the third wheel when it comes to cheating, you might want to be careful.
Several states have a law that allows for lawsuits in cases of infidelity. While there are laws regarding adultery as it pertains to the married individuals (usually having to do with divorce court), only six states have laws that penalize the other person.
It's called alienation of affection, and it can cost a pretty penny.
"This is what North Carolina calls a heart balm action -- a balm for your heart," said Jessica Culver, a family law lawyer practicing in North Carolina.
"If a third party has inserted themselves into your marriage in some way and destroyed the love and affection in your marriage, you have a remedy available."
This actually can apply to more than just mistresses.
"Some lawyers call it a mother-in-lawsuit because indeed, an in-law can get in the way," said Culver.
It's not so easy as just pointing a finger however. If you want to sue someone for breaking up your marriage you need proof (like text messages or other evidence) that they got in the way.
In a recent survey of people who admitted adultery, over 50% of those who were cheated on said they found out through electronic evidence. So it's likely such proof exists if you're suing your spouse's other significant other.
The law is not a popular one. Although there's no specific wording in the law, most of the times its been tried have been a slighted man trying to redeem himself after losing his wife.
"This comes from the same dogma that created the idea that women, wives, are their husbands' property," said Culver.
Still, about 200 cases of Alienation of Affection make their way into North Carolina courts every year. It's also legal to sue someone else for your marriage's end in Hawaii, Mississipii, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Utah.