Filing For Marital Tort in Abusive Marriages
Although physical violence is an easily recognizable marital tort, there can be other forms of abuse as well within a marriage. Any tort inflicted by one spouse that causes mental, physical or emotional distress to the other spouse is classified as “marital tort.”
Examples Of Marital TortAbuse in marriage is quite common. As per a CDC report, 24 people every minute are subject to rape, violence or stalking in an intimate relationship. One in four women experience acts of physical violence during an intimate relationship, including marriage, which can include being hit with something hard, pulling hair, being slammed, beaten or kicked, suffocating or choking, being burnt.
Some other examples of marital tort are listed below:
o Marital rape
o Infection with an STD by one's spouse
o Intentional infliction of emotional distress
o Battered Women's syndrome
o Use of excessive force
o False imprisonment
o Wrongful death
o Physical assault and battery
o Persistent name calling
o Threatening to cause harm of any kind or destroy something of value
o Abusive behavior towards children in a marriage that can include violence or kids being forced to witness certain violent acts towards the spouse
o Withholding access to money, food or other facilities
o Obsession or stalking
Although these torts are commonly encountered, there can be many other forms of abuse in a marriage. Privacy invasion, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and other crimes can also be examples of marital torts. While many such torts can be categorized as crimes, a civil lawsuit has to be filed by a victim in order to obtain compensation.
Suing For Marital TortBoth monetary and punitive compensation can be sought for the emotional distress, humiliation, pain and suffering, expenses borne for healthcare due to physical or mental injury, and loss of livelihood or earning capacity. Punitive compensation would depend on the nature and extent of the inflicted tort.
If you have been a victim of any kind of marital tort, you can file for damages. California is a "no fault" divorce state in that for filing a divorce there does not have to be proof of a fault. But in cases of marital tort, domestic violence conviction and spousal support are based on the proof of the fault.
As per California law "In a divorce case where a spouse has been convicted of an act of domestic violence against the other spouse within 5 years prior to the dissolution proceeding (typically with a petition for dissolution) being filed or any time after that, there is a "rebuttable presumption" that the convicted spouse should not receive a spousal support award." Unless there is a contest by the perpetrator regarding the conviction, it is assumed that the spousal support is not awarded to the person convicted.
Marital Tort Is Different From DivorceFiling for marital tort is separate from filing for divorce. Also, the compensation you can claim for marital tort is separate from the alimony or child support you would claim in a divorce suit.
In California marital tort, if the defendant had "constructive knowledge" in which he or she was aware that certain actions carried out would harm the defendant in any way, then he or she would be liable for legal action.
If there is an injury sustained, you would have to file for domestic violence, which has to be done within two years from the date of sustaining the injury. For cases of false imprisonment, the statute of limitation is one year. The earlier immunity that was granted to spouses no longer is applicable.
Because of the many complex legal intricacies involved in a marital tort, consulting an experienced attorney specializing in marital tort in California would be the best course of action.