Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marital Torts, The New Way to Handle Fault in a Divorce?

According to a legal dictionary, a tort is a private or civil wrong or injury that results "from a breach of a legal duty that exists by society's expectations regarding interpersonal conduct, rather than by a contract or other private relationship."

Every lawsuit has something called elements that must be present to sustain a cause of action. In a tort action, the following elements must be present:

*there must be a legal duty owed by a defendant to a plaintiff, and

*breach of that duty, and

*a causal relation between the defendant's conduct and the resulting damage to the plaintiff.

A marital tort comes from incidents or behaviors that occurred between spouses, and sometimes third parties, during the marriage, even during the pendency of a divorce suit and possibly afterward in certain circumstances.

Some examples of a suit that could be brought as a marital tort action are:

*assault and battery


*spoliation of evidence, negligent and/or intentional

*infliction of emotional distress, negligent and/or intentional

*transmission of a venereal disease

*interference with custody



*invasion of privacy, wiretap

*false imprisonment


Ex-spouses aren't the only people at risk of being a party to a marital tort action. For example, if the underlying tort is fraud or spoliation of evidence for hiding assets, lying about the value of assets, or transferring assets to deprive a spouse from having the asset included in the marital or community estate during a dissolution of marriage, anyone who assisted in the wrongful activity is at risk. It could be an accountant, a bookkeeper, a lawyer, a stockbroker, a family member or a friend.

For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/--

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