GREENVILLE, N.C. (CBS Local) — A divorced North Carolina man has won $750,000 in a lawsuit against the man he claimed broke up his marriage.

Kevin Howard was married 12 years when his wife approached him about separating.

“It was like someone calling you and telling you that a family member had tragically died,” the Pitt County man told WITN.

Howard recently won a $750,000 judgment against his ex-wife’s lover under North Carolina’s alienation of affection law, according to court documents.

Under alienation of affection laws, also known as “homewrecker” or “heartbalm” laws, a case can be brought to the court by a spouse who has been deserted because of the actions of a third party, according to Lawyers.com.

“He came to my house and ate dinner with my children and I and her,” Howard said. “He would visit with her while I was at work.”

Alienation of affection lawsuits are usually filed against the person a spouse cheated with, but anyone that interfered with a marriage can be named as a defendant, including parents, in laws and clergy members.

“I filed this case because I believe it’s very important that people understand that sanctity of marriage is important especially in this day and age when people question everyone’s morals, people questions everyone’s liability of a person and the state backed me up on it,” Howard said.

Six other states allow homewrecker lawsuits, including Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah.

North Carolina’s alienation of affection law is from the 1800’s and follows English law dating back to 1745 when wives were considered property.

“I think the law should be repealed,” said Kellie Gonzalez, an independent attorney. “There have been several legislative movements and attempts to have the law removed but those have failed.”

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