Can I sue a woman for trying to break up my relationship?

All Woman

Can I sue a woman for trying to break up my relationship?

Margarette Macaulay

Monday, April 06, 2020

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Dear Mrs Macaulay,

Early last year, my common-law husband had a one-night affair where condom broke. Both parties agreed that they weren't ready for a child, given the circumstances. The woman agreed to take the morning after pill which she was given the funds to purchase.

He got a phone call from her recently, and she stated that she had given birth and needed him to sign the birth certificate. Mind you, no communication was made between either party during the entire nine months. He had no clue she was even pregnant, as he had not heard from or seen her. When asked how she became pregnant, her response was that she “forgot to take the second pill” and didn't want to let him know as she didn't want to “mash up” his relationship.

My question is, how do I go about suing her, and on what grounds may I sue her for intentionally and maliciously wanting to break up my relationship?

You say you wish to sue this woman for intentionally and maliciously wanting to break up your relationship.

You allege that this woman and your spouse had a sexual liaison that they agreed would end with her taking measures to prevent pregnancy; that no communication occurred between them after the one-night encounter; that he had no clue that she was pregnant; and that she said she did not want to break up his relationship.

You have no grounds to file a claim because all that you have stated is hearsay. You have obtained information from your spouse and they are not facts, but merely assertions he has made to you, any or all of which may be true or false. You have no knowledge about what is supposed to have happened, save for what your common-law husband told you. No claim can be based on hearsay.

You would also fail because you have, yourself, given the woman a complete defence to your allegation of having acted intentionally and maliciously to break up your relationship.

You therefore have no facts, only hearsay from your common-law husband, and from those facts you have provided the woman with unassailable defences to your assertions.

I am not aware of any legal basis on which such a claim as you envisage, even if you had direct facts that the woman wanted to have a continuous relationship with your common-law spouse, could be based. Even if you and your spouse were legally married, there is no such claim known to law. In years gone by, there was the possibility for a party in a divorce proceeding to sue for damages for alienation of affection if the other party had an affair. The person they had an affair with would be named as a co-respondent in the proceedings. This was done away with when the Matrimonial Causes Act replaced the Divorce Act and made divorce a no-fault suit by making the sole ground for divorce be the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. And even in those bygone days, that cause of action did not apply to common-law unions, which were not then, as are now, recognised in law.

You have not stated whether your spouse has considered having a DNA test done to ensure his status. Only then can he have true facts on which to act. Remember, if he does nothing, the woman can also apply to the Family Court for a declaration of paternity, from which a DNA test would be ordered, and then consequential orders as considered appropriate would be made.

The issue of whether or not your relationship is affected is for you to decide, and does not rest with the woman, from what you yourself said of the circumstances. As neither party wanted a child to result from their encounter, a DNA test should be done and based on the result, if positive, they could consider putting the child up for adoption, or maybe you and your spouse can seek the agreement of the woman for you to have custody, care and control of the child, as you state that she was not ready to have a child. Or if the woman now wants to keep and care for the child, you can decide to forgive your common-law husband for his “one-night” lapse and he can do what is necessary to contribute towards the child's upbringing with your agreement and support.

You have no basis for a claim in law against this woman. You also cannot lay all the blame on her. Satisfy yourself and your spouse about whether the child is his, and sit down and have a calm discussion about how you will deal with the child's future as a couple. This is the sensible thing to do.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.


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