South Dakota Votes To Preserve Right To Sue Spouse-Stealers

02/01/2011 05:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

South Dakota's House Judiciary Committee voted Monday to maintain a measure that allows spurned spouses to sue individuals who disrupt their marriages.

According to the the Associated Press, the decision was passed down in a 7-5 vote that extended a century-old provision that permitted a husband to sue another man who tempted his wife into "alienation of affection." In 2002, that law was broadened to apply to women.

Sponsors of the overturn measure have claimed that it inappropriately treats spouses as their personal belongings.

"Property can be stolen. People cannot," state Rep. Melissa Magstadt (R) told the AP. "It is used as revenge and does not serve a useful means to preserve marriage," she continued, noting the propensity for wealthier people to be targeted in this type of lawsuit.

Some of those in favor of the law, however, have said that it is a necessary protection to guard against third parties intentionally disrupting married couples' relationships.

The Associated Press reports:

South Dakota is one of only seven states that still allow lawsuits for alienation of affection, Magstadt said. The other states are Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina and Utah.

Read more about the South Dakota legislation here.

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