Sue Ex-Spouse for Personal Injury Damages?
There is a cause of action – grounds for a lawsuit against an ex-spouse for personal injury damages incurred during the marriage. But marital torts, also known as domestic torts, comprise a tricky and often confusing area of the law.
In the past, you could not sue your ex-spouse because of interspousal tort immunity.
What is a Tort? A tort is a wrongful act that creates the basis for liability against a defendant. It is a civil action based on the conduct of one individual which causes harm or damage to another.
Several years ago, interspousal tort immunity would have prevented you from suing your ex-spouse for damages inflicted during marriage. Historically, interspousal tort immunity was grounded in the belief that family harmony would be disrupted if spouses were allowed to sue one another. This common law doctrine also considered husband and wife to be a single legal entity after marriage; therefore, they could not sue each other.
But things have changed. According to the article “Marital Tort Actions; Family” law by Mary Kay Kisthardt and Barbara Handschu, published in the National Law Journal on March 28, 2005, the doctrine of interspousal immunity has been abolished in all jurisdictions.
The Married Women’s Property Act ended the notion that husband and wife were legally one person; however, interspousal tort immunity continued to exist because courts did not want to undermine marital harmony, expose private family matters to the public, or open the doors to frivolous lawsuits.
Today, even though you can sue your ex-spouse, many courts are still reluctant to interfere with personal matters related to marriage, particularly when it comes to matters of emotional distress or mental anguish. These types of cases, therefore, can be very difficult to win.
The most common marital torts include assault and battery. In most cases, it’s fairly easy to prove physical abuse.
Emotional distress, on the other hand, is often more difficult to prove in court. When stemming from physical abuse, claims of emotional distress tend to be more successful – but it can be difficult to prove other forms of emotional distress. Moreover, most people would agree that some level of emotional distress occurs in all marriages.
You can also sue your ex-spouse for fraud. The successful versions of these cases are normally related to economic fraud rather than fraudulent misrepresentation in personal matters.
You may also sue an ex-spouse for:
· False imprisonment
· Intentional interference with child custody, visitation, or a parent-child relationship
· Tortious infliction of venereal disease
· Wrongful death
· Illegal wiretapping
If you believe that your ex-spouse may be liable to you for his or her actions, contact an experienced attorney and ask, “Can I can file a marital tort action against my spouse?”
Don’t wait until your divorce is over! In some cases, you must join your tort with the divorce proceedings. In other cases, it’s best to wait and file the tort claim after the divorce.
If you believe that you may have a personal injury case against your ex-spouse, be sure to talk to a personal injury attorney before signing your divorce papers. By signing the divorce papers, you may unintentionally release your ex-spouse from any future claims.
Don’t delay! If you wait too long to sue, the statute of limitations may expire, and you’ll lose your right to sue. Act now: Contact Atlanta personal injury attorney Michael Lawson Neff at (404) 531-9700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.