Feb. 11, 2010 -- Elizabeth Edwards may be preparing to sue her husband's longtime aide for allegedly contributing to the demise of her marriage.
In such a lawsuit, Edwards would argue an "alienation of affection," alleging that Andrew Young's role in covering up his former boss's affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter was partly responsible for the failure of the Edwardses' marriage, ABC News has learned.
Elizabeth and John Edwards are legally separated after more than 30 years of marriage. John Edwards is no longer living at their Chapel Hill, N.C., home.
Young dropped a bombshell Wednesday, telling reporters that Elizabeth Edwards threatened to sue him for what she believes was his role in the breakup of her marriage.
"I am fighting for this," Young said outside a North Carolina courthouse. "They've called me, and my family liars, and we're going to fight to the very end. ... That's not true."
North Carolina is one of seven states that allows a third party to be sued for the dissolution of a marriage. "Alienation of affection" suits are typically filed by a spurned spouse against a husband or wife's lover but could be interpreted to include additional third parties, legal experts said.
Lee Rosen, a divorce attorney with the Rosen Law Firm in Raleigh, N.C., said it's unlikely the argument will hold in court.
"I think it would be very difficult. You have to show that the defendant, in this case, Andrew Young, engaged in malicious conduct," Rosen said. "From everything that has been reported…It just sounded like he wanted to protect John's efforts to become president."
"Alienation of affection" cases typically take three to four years to come to trial, according to Rosen.
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Elizabeth Edwards approached Young's legal team last week, threatening to sue unless Young agreed to several terms, sources told ABC News' Bob Woodruff.
Among her purported demands was that Young donate $250,000 to the Wade Edwards Foundation, a nonprofit group named for the Edwardes' late son, who died in a car accident in 1996.
She also purportedly demanded that Young stop speaking publicly about the Edwardes' marriage, and that he return voice mails that she apparently left him in the course of the 2008 presidential campaign.
"Andrew, I'm tired of playing games with you," Elizabeth said in a message to Young April 11, 2007.
Young has yet to meet her demands, the sources said, and Edwards has yet to file suit.
A potential suit from Elizabeth Edwards, however, isn't the only legal challenge the Youngs face.
Court Takes Possession of Edwards' Sex Tape
Young's lawyers turned over to a North Carolina court Wednesday a purported sex tape allegedly made by the former senator and two-time presidential candidate and Hunter.
Hunter, 42, sued the Youngs to recover a "personal videotape," which she contends is her property. She was granted a temporary restraining order last month to prevent the Youngs from distributing the tape.
Young, retrieved the alleged sex tape from a safe deposit box at a First Citizens Bank in Atlanta Tuesday, accompanied by a private security guard appointed by the court.
He gave a videotape labeled "special" (the sex tape) and a DVD called "hmm files copy 2," plus a log of the safe deposit box's activity, to the guard, who delivered the items to the court to be put under seal. According to the guard who testified today, the log showed the box was last opened in December 2008.
Young's attorney also turned over a copy of the sex tape from the Youngs' home, along with additional items, including a CD of photos.
The handover came after a week of legal battles.
North Carolina Judge Abraham Penn Jones ordered that a security officer accompany Young to retrieve the tape and remove personal photographs from the Youngs' computer. In response, the Youngs filed an appeal against the order Monday, claiming it amounted to unreasonable search and seizure.
The Court of Appeals issued a stay in the case Tuesday, but the ruling came down after Young had already turned over the tape to the security guard.
The Youngs were declared in contempt of court Feb. 5, for not turning over the tape and photos being sought by Hunter. Jones said there would be penalties if the tapes weren't given to the court by Wednesday's deadline.
The Youngs claim that all the material covered by the temporary restraining order may be needed by federal prosecutors investigating whether campaign funds were improperly used by Edwards or his staff. A copy of the tape has been given to the FBI in Washington, D.C., as part of a grand jury investigation into Edwards' campaign finances.
Andrew Young Offered 'Gigantic' Sum for Sex Tape
Edwards admitted that he fathered a child during an affair with Hunter, who gave birth to Frances Quinn, in February 2008.
Young covered up Edward's affair with Hunter throughout the presidential campaign, acting as a middleman in a love triangle between the presidential hopeful, his ailing wife and his mistress. The once-loyal aide even claimed paternity of Edwards' love child to protect the candidate's reputation and political career.
The existence of a sex tape, along with other revelations on Edwards' affair and the expensive coverup of Hunter's pregnancy, came to light in Young's new tell-all book, "The Politician" and an exclusive interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff, which aired on "20/20."
Hunter said she made and hid a videotape that "depicted matters of a very private and personal nature" in or around September 2006, according to an affidavit filed Jan. 28, 2009.
Young said the woman in the tape was noticeably pregnant. While the woman's face is not seen in the video, Cheri Young told Woodruff the woman is wearing a bracelet and a thumb ring typically worn by Hunter. Young, who had worked for Edwards since his 1998 Senate win, said he was absolutely sure it was Edwards in the tape.
"It's a sex tape of Rielle and John Edwards made just a couple of months before the Iowa caucuses," Young told Woodruff. "It's amazing the tape exists. ... But to leave it in a house that's for sale -- where Realtors are going to be coming through it -- and leave it there for eight months -- is unbelievable."
Hunter claimed the video was found in a hatbox where she kept personal items like her passport in a house that the Youngs rented for her. The Youngs said the video was found in a box of trash in their own home after Hunter stayed with them for several weeks in 2007.
Andrew Young told ABC News that he'd been offered a "gigantic" amount of money to sell the tape.
Hunter also has filed suit against the Youngs to seek damages for invasion of privacy.