Scant funds by alleged cheaters is one reason why many North Carolina alienation of affection claims never make it to court, Rosen said.
"They're not worth suing most of the time," he said. "For this to really work out, you've got to have a paramour [who] has substantial assets."
Cynthia Shackelford, who owes tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills, said she hopes to recover at least some money from Lundquist.
But she said she's also focused on something more intangible -- spreading awareness about the harm posed by adultery.
She said her distress over her husband's alleged affair caused her health problems, including severe weight loss. She worries about how her children, now 23 and 27, are coping with the mess.
At least one of her children, Amy Shackelford, has made her thoughts on the subject public: In a message posted on a News & Record blog, Amy Shackelford called her father a "dirtbag" and "delusional narcissist" who "emotionally and financially abandoned his entire family for the last five years."
Cynthia Shackelford said the lawsuit "was worth it to do just to send a message" about extramarital affairs.
"I wanted other people to understand, before they do it, how much it hurts," she said.
ABC News' James Hill contributed to this report.