Spouse Stealing Law Stays On Books

Jan 29, 2013

By Victoria Wicks

A bill to repeal South Dakota’s alienation of affection law was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Senator Stan Adelstein has tried in the past to overturn the law that allows a spouse to sue an interloper in the marriage—someone who seduces one spouse away from the other.

This year, Adelstein referred to the Rapid City alienation of affection case that made headlines across the nation. Douglas Rumpca sued then-Pennington County State’s Attorney Glenn Brenner, who dated Rumpca’s wife and, after she divorced Rumpca, married her.

Although Rumpca was unsuccessful, Adelstein says the lawsuit and the media attention damaged the children of the parties, as well as other innocent people.

During the December trial, testimony alleged that Rumpca was abusive toward his wife. Adelstein says his research has shown that fact to exist in other alienation of affection cases.

“It’s a matter of vengeance and anger, and it’s used primarily by the kind of men… what I’ve learned is where these cases have been brought generally, the majority of the cases, a defense was the woman left the marriage because of abuse rather than the other man,” Adelstein says.

Opponents of eliminating the alienation of affection law say it’s a tool that can support a marriage and give a person reason to think twice before interfering in someone else’s marriage.

The committee voted 4 to 3 to keep the law intact.