Do I have a spousal privilege to defend myself in a defamation case?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Salt Lake City, UT

I thought my husband had an affair with a woman I knew because there had been a lot of phone calls and messages between them and when confronted by me they denied that they knew each other. I wrote a message to her spouse telling that his wife was having an affair with my husband. Now she wants to sue me for defamation because she denies any affair. Am I immune from defamation suit because of my spousal privilege?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. 3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No. However, without significant damages, the lawsuit would probably could the spouse more than would be recovered.

  2. Answered . "spousal privilege" is typically referred to in a criminal setting where one spouse can not be made to testify as against the other. Even if arguendo applied in a civil setting, it would not help you because your comments to the other woman's husband calling her an adulterer was effectively a published statement which, if not true, is defamatory, and is not "privileged" since you are not a "spouse" to her husband and therefore, does not make you immune from a defamation action. Note that "truth" is a defense, so hopefully you can, if forced, prove that an affair was in fact had between them - something more than e-mails (unless one or both admitted to the act therein) would be necessary. On the other hand, she will have to think twice about following through with her threat, as such cases tend to open secret closets and are expensive to prosecute.

  3. Answered . Sorry but it doesn't appear the damages warrant bringing a claim.

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Personal injury and defamation

Defamation is any type of emotional or psychological personal injury that occurs when someone intentionally harms another’s character or reputation.

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