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Heart Balm Actions: Introduction

Reviewed 1/23/2019

    Heart Balm Actions


A heart balm (or heartbalm) action refers to several different lawsuits relating to courtship or marriage.  These common law suits (meaning they were developed by judges rather than legislatures) were: alienation of affections, breach of promise to marry, seduction, and criminal conversation. These suits were prevalent many years ago, but now most states, including New Hampshire, have done away with them either by enacting "heart balm statutes" or through judicial decisions. States made this change because legislators, guided by public policy and prevailing sentiment, no longer saw judicial involvement and money damages as being appropriate for what is perceived as only an ordinary broken heart.  Although heart balm actions no longer exist in New Hampshire, we are occasionally asked about them at the law library. 


Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ...  is not a substitute for the services of an attorney.