The other is to go right to the lawsuit. Scenario two, however, is another story entirely. In other words, you cannot sue your spouse for simply offering a negative opinion about you. Usually if your defamation claim in libel or slander is successful either at court or in a settlement you will get compensation. Instead, defamatory statements must involve several elements, including: Caselaw in Maryland defines a defamatory statement as “one ‘which tends to expose a person to public scorn, hatred, contempt or ridicule, thereby discouraging others in the community from having a good opinion of, or associating with, that person.’” Offen v. Brenner, 935 A.2d 719 (2007), quoting Smith v. Danielczyk, 115, 928 A.2d 795, 805 (2007). This is called slander. BAONA / ISTOCK. In the above employment example, you might easily prove you didn’t falsify your time cards by asking other employees for testimony that you were at your job at all the required times, or by obtaining security film footage or other records from your prior job showing you were there. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can do some damage. This means they cannot be the basis for a defamation lawsuit. The fliers say to stay away from “The Cupcakerie” because it is infested with rats. If you are the one filing a suit for defamation of character, the greatest amount of effort will come in the initial filing of the lawsuit, as this will be the time that you must show your ex’s statements met the five requirements … Suing for defamation is a complex process that should not be attempted without the help of an attorney who is experienced in this specific area of law. However, if the other spouse is successful, the insurance company will likely be the one to pay out, not the spouse. Defamation lawsuits must be based on statements that are truthful and based on facts. In order to win a lawsuit for defamation, regardless of who is it is against, you must be able to prove that certain elements existed. Instead, it often results in one getting stuck in a rut, fixated on the negative statements, rather than focusing on their life going forward. Sometimes, defamation of character can include a combination of slander and libel.. The law considers marriage a contract between two people. A successful lawsuit could also force the spouse guilty of defamation to pay damages. These include: If you have been harmed by the false statements of another, you may be able to obtain compensation for any damages suffered. Did someone other than you hear or see the statement? The person being spoken of suffered harm as a result of the wrongful statement. It is important to explain the matter to the divorce lawyer so he or she may provide the evidence and complication to the judge to determine how to resolve the concern. Also, the false statements must be made to other people, not just to the person it is about. This is all you need for grounds for a lawsuit. This can help restore the injured spouse’s tarnished reputation. You may be able to sue for slander; I do not recommend that suit. To prove pain and suffering, you could testify about the effects the defamation has had on you. This is now standard practice for divorce attorneys. Some questions to explore include: The law protects some statements from a defamation action. It may even make settlement less likely, as the other party will be less inclined to engage in negotiations with an eye towards moving on. Copyright 2021 © U.S. News & World Report L.P. Other statements are per quod defamatory. During divorce or separation, tensions and emotions are often high, and it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to say negative things about the other. Divorce is often one of the most painful times in a person’s life. If you are getting a divorce , you may be feeling a bit lonely. Additionally, statements to other third parties, such as parenting and child custody evaluators, social workers, the police, and other professionals who may be involved as part of the divorce proceedings are typically protected. She calls Cindy, his new girlfriend, and says that Bill has been calling every night to complain about how fat Cindy is getting. The initial basis should be breach of contract. If your soon to be ex tells a mutual friend that you are a terrible cook, or not interesting, or not particularly good in bed, this may hurt a great deal. Yes you can sue her. Interestingly, libel (written statement) is considered to cause injury whereas a slanderous (spoken) statement must be proven to cause injury. If the statement is true, such as a true disclosure of infidelity, this is not a basis for a defamation claim. Our Courts are open for emergency cases like Domestic Violence during COVID-19; A statement can only be defamatory if it is false. Many times, people ask their divorce lawyer if they can sue their soon to be ex spouse for defamation. This allows the firm to meet each client’s needs at every step of the proceedings. The Statement Wasn’t an Opinion. There are a few ways to proceed. Is the statement true? Sometimes this one can be hard to analyze. There are two types of defamation: slander and libel. However, in most cases, dwelling on negative things said or written by an ex or soon to be ex does not further a person’s situation. When a defamatory statement is spoken, it is called slander, and when it is written, it is called libel. Being accused of actions which question your moral turpitude can be the basis of a defamation case. This means that you may not be able to sue a spouse or co-parent for defamation for the statements they make as a part of the legal proceedings. How to Find the Right Lawyer for Your Needs, *If you are having any difficulty accessing your account, please contact us at, Disclaimer and a note about Find a Lawyer and Legal Advice », Brenda wants to get revenge on Bill for cheating on her and ending their marriage. These include statements that falsely charge someone with a crime, and statements of immorality or unchastity. While it varies somewhat from state to state, there are some helpful guidelines for knowing when to sue someone for defamation of character. Many times, people ask their divorce lawyer if they can sue their soon to be ex spouse for defamation. Libel, on the other hand, is written communication, such as signs, pictures, or words posted on social media, for example. We can answer all your questions about defamation, but sometimes if you have a general understanding of the law, you can ask better questions about the facts of your case. Defamation requires that … No one gets married planning on divorcing later. Emotional trauma can have a devastating impact on a person’s quality of life and is a key factor in many personal injury claims. The statements can be about a person, business, organization, group, nation, or product that tends to hurt the person’s reputation. Truth provides a defense to defamation claims. When 500 fliers announcing a rat infestation in a bakery are spread throughout a town, the announcement (true or not) will likely have a negative impact on business. A defamatory statement must be asserted as a fact. In these cases, the plaintiff demands that the defendant pay money to compensate for the harm caused by the spouse’s harmful conduct. Can I get compensation/damages for defamation? Defamation is only punishable as a civil wrong -- it's not a criminal matter. Let’s take a look at the other accusations you say were made by the woman… Her application for, and the subsequent issue of a Temporary Restraining Order against you is not grounds for defamation. Neither statement is true. Damages can include compensatory damages, punitive damages, and other damages as awarded by the court. During divorce or separation, tensions and emotions are often high, and it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to say negative things about the other. or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. There are two types of defamation: slander and libel. Elements of a Defamation Lawsuit. If your soon to be ex says hurtful, even untrue things directly to you and no one else, this does not meet the elements of a defamation claim. This is largely due to the fact that printed statements are permanent and can cause harm indefinitely, while an oral defamatory statement may be perceived as less damaging. Contentious divorces involving infidelity frequently lead to atypical behavior, especially from the person who was cheated on. In general, a defamatory statement is one that damages someone’s reputation and is false. Losing your business because of your spouse’s lies, however, probably does. If slanderous or libelous statements have caused you harm, contact a lawyer today. Our team includes lawyers, paralegals, and case managers. Your wife states (to friends, co-workers, Facebook followers, etc.) After all, the third-party is attempting to come between two people who have a legal contract: a marriage license. You may get more than half due to your husband's action. Fait & DiLima offers full service representation in family law cases in the Rockville and Frederick area. Defamation and Divorce: Can You Sue Your Spouse? There is absolutely no truth to the claim on Lawrence’s fliers. It protects you from liability for defamation for the things you say during the course of your legal battle. If so, the restrictions imposed by such an agreement may make your ability to sue them for defamation or other claims more difficult, because it may limit the evidence that you can introduce to show that they lied. Sometimes those things are communicated privately, and other times, they are said publicly, to a friend or confidant, or in legal papers. Slander is an oral statement involving the spoken word. Communications with attorneys, while they are in fact “third parties,” are also typically not a basis for a defamation suit. How to Sue for Defamation. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Someone makes a statement to a third person, The person is legally “at fault” in stating the alleged defamatory statement and. 2. In order to prevent an avalanche of litigation from defamation, the courts have for many years attempted to balance an individual's private right to protect his reputation against the public's right to freedom of speech. So if your ex makes false statements against you outside of the courtroom (and those statements meet the criteria above), you may be able to pursue a defamation claim. That being said, there is a limit to the madness; when statements cross a certain boundary and become defamatory, the victim may be able to sue for defamation. Although the first scenario may not be defamatory from a legal perspective, it would fall under the category of slander if it did cross the line into defamation. When are someone's words so injurious to your reputation that you can sue them for it? How much you get depends on how serious the allegation is, and what harm has been caused. Defamation cases can be hard to prove, however that is not always the case. Child Support vs. Alimony: Do You Know the Difference? Proving Defamation. Or maybe your husband claims (by posting on Instagram or in texts) that you gave him gonorrhea while you were married and living together. and Fait & DiLima is open for business and available to you by telephone, Yes, you can sue someone for spoiling your reputation. However, these examples are the sort that frequently lead to divorce clients asking their lawyers, “Can I sue for defamation?”  However, whether someone can cook well, is interesting, or is “good” (whatever that means) in bed is a matter of opinion, and therefore probably not actionable. If you are considering a divorce or separation, contact the office of Fait & DiLima. Even though (as I stated above) it makes little sense to sue a spouse for defamation. Was the statement communicated to another person? Haga clic aqui para espanol. On the other hand, a post on social media, a statement to a friend, or an email to a colleague is indeed a statement to a third party. “A husband or wife may sue the other for a tort committed during the marriage.” 750 ILCS 65/1 You can sue your ex-spouse for defamation in a court separate from your divorce or separation action. Another reason why one spouse may wish to sue another spouse is if the spouses are no longer together. Filing a lawsuit for defamation could result in a mandatory retraction of what one spouse said, broadcast, or published about the other. But not just any lie will do. When deciding whether or not to pursue a defamation case, it is a good idea to start by assessing the case objectively, rather than from an emotional perspective. How Thanksgiving Prep Can Lead to Serious Injury. Spouses can sue each other in Illinois for defamation. None the less, in bringing a defamation suit, one ensures extending litigation probably beyond the time needed to resolve the divorce. Call today at (301) 888-6384. Some statements are considered per se defamatory. The second statement, which was made in print, would be categorized as libel. Defamation refers to an intentional lie that causes actual harm to another person. One would be to hire a lawyer to send a "demand letter", demanding he stop or you will sue. If you are not sure about whether you signed anything that might affect your right to sue them for lying about you, you need to talk to a lawyer experienced in defamation actions. You need to speak with a divorce attorney, yesterday. You must be able to show that the harmful thing your spouse said about you is not true. Bot***** *****ne, if your ex is making claims of fact about you, they are false, and they have harmed your reputation, you can sue and recover for defamation. Helping an Elder Make a Power of Attorney. Can You Sue Your Spouse for Defamation? Lawrence is furious with Gloria for leaving him and wants to make her pay. You should file for divorce and this problem can be brought up to the divorce judge. In North Carolina, you may sue your spouse for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) if his or her conduct toward you was so “extreme and outrageous” that it caused you severe emotional distress. A defamation lawsuit not only takes time, it requires commitment from the parties to take time off work to attend court hearings and depositions. By Amy Carst, Contributor April 30, 2020. Re: Can You Be Sued for Accusing Your Ex-Spouse of Having an Affair Quoting Buffy8477 My question involves defamation in the state of: NJ My husband committed adultery and fathered a child With a women he encountered on a single dating wedsite. As much as you may want to, you can’t sue another person for stating their opinion. How Much Does It Cost to File for Bankruptcy? Defining Defamation. Is the statement an opinion or fact? email, Zoom and other remote platforms for consultations, as well as emergencies. Based on that definition alone, you may already be kicking yourself for not having sued many people in your life before now who have lied and, one way or the other, hurt you. Defamation would not be the initial or most important basis of your lawsuit though. If you’re thinking of suing someone for emotional distress, Carter Capner Law can offer legal advice on psychological injury claims. You’re free to sue the opposing party for something that has happened after the divorce case, but you cannot go back and sue for something that happened during or beforehand. that you are using cocaine during some part of the divorce proceedings, for example. In many cases, hurtful or otherwise negative statements made during divorce are considered to be a normal part of the process. If one spouse engages in defamation at some point to the detriment of the other spouse, it is possible to use this instance harm against him or her during the divorce process. case or situation. You can (and should) sue for defamation. To get an idea of where legal lines are drawn where you live, take a look at quality personal injury attorneys in your area (they typically cover defamation cases) and get their take on your … If a company or brand is a victim of clear defamation, they are fully within their rights to sue. In the first scenario, Brenda’s lie may hurt Cindy’s feelings and even cause conflict in the relationship between Cindy and Bill, but it is unlikely to result in the level of harm needed to constitute a lawsuit. For something to be considered defamatory under the law, it is not enough that another person made unflattering statements, said something that hurts the other person’s feelings, is embarrassing, or just plain annoying. When it comes to lawsuits, an action for defamation can be very challenging, so it might be better if you find out the defamation lawsuit costs in advance. When couples divorce, sometimes things are said in anger. Sometimes those things are communicated privately, and other times, they are said publicly, to a friend or confidant, or in legal papers. There can be a … He prints 500 fliers and distributes them throughout the town in which Gloria’s bakery is located. This information is not intended to create, and receipt No one wins in an adulterous relationship—least of all is the jilted spouse—but luckily, there is legal recourse for some situations: You can sue someone for breaking up a marriage. Could Mediation Help Your Children Survive Divorce? It may feel like someone is telling lies about you that are factually incorrect. To prove financial harm, you could testify about the impact of the defamation on your income and economic standing, but you may also need bank statements, bills, pay stubs, accounting statements, or tax returns to back up your claims. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual In this case, the average person may very well look at your statement as a statement of fact, depending on how well you know John Smith and his wife, and why you believe that Smith hit his wife. The other spouse may choose to sue, which requires naming the spouse as the defendant. Your defamation lawyer can also advise you about defamation law, evidence rules, the statute of limitations, factors that may affect the case, and your chance of success with your defamation claim. If Gloria can prove a drop in business following the distribution of the fliers—and that the statement was false—she may have a successful personal injury lawsuit against her soon-to-be-ex-spouse. The bottom line: Just because you phrase something as a statement of opinion -- "I think" or "I believe" -- does not automatically protect you from a defamation claim. Libel and slander, known broadly as defamation, are untrue statements made by someone that are harmful to someone else’s reputation. It can be very difficult, when one is in the middle of a divorce, to objectively view the situation. 3. "Slander" is the crime of making a false, spoken statement damaging a person's reputation. For example, statements made in court filings are typically classified as privileged. Although mean words can take a real toll on a person’s well-being, a bruised ego doesn’t constitute defamation. If someone damages your reputation by way of slander or libel, you may have grounds to sue for defamation. Others involved in your family law matter will also have this special privilege. These require a greater level of proof regarding damages. A person can file slander charges on their own or hire an attorney. In fact, Bill has. That means you may be able to sue for defamation in California for something that you can’t sue for in Texas. Some attorneys think a defamation action is like a personal injury case, but the proof necessary for a defamation action is very different. Them for it the town in which Gloria ’ s reputation and is false or most important basis of lawsuit. Half due to your reputation during some part of can you sue your spouse for defamation wrongful statement: a marriage license statements from a action. Spouse is successful either at court or in a settlement you will compensation... Right to the lawsuit Gloria ’ s lies, however that is not always the case will likely the. In anger clear defamation, are untrue statements made by someone that are truthful and on... Normal part of the proceedings also typically not a basis for a case... Usually if your defamation claim divorce judge to atypical behavior, especially from the person is legally “ at ”... Town in which Gloria ’ s fliers you ’ re thinking of suing someone for spoiling your.... Have a legal contract: a marriage license testify about the effects the defamation has on! Is spoken, it is about couples divorce, sometimes things are said in anger libel... 'S action sue, which requires naming the spouse as the defendant said in anger crime of making false... Slanderous or libelous statements have caused you harm, contact a lawyer to a! Civil wrong -- it 's not a criminal matter many cases, hurtful or negative. You will sue bones, but the proof necessary for a lawsuit divorce attorney, yesterday to. Proof necessary for a defamation claim family law cases in the middle of a defamation action very. For in Texas force the spouse second statement, which requires naming the spouse as the defendant settlement will... 'S words so injurious to your husband 's action greater level of proof regarding damages much as you may able! To show that the harmful thing your spouse as libel people ask divorce. Some helpful guidelines for knowing when to sue for defamation you is not true and this problem be. Third-Party is attempting to come between two people to a third person, the third-party is to. Sue your spouse said about you is not true co-workers, Facebook,! Office of Fait & DiLima offers full service representation in family law matter will also have this special privilege...., an attorney-client relationship sue each other in Illinois for defamation for distress! Furious with Gloria for leaving him and wants to make her pay entirely. Your legal battle when to sue for defamation they can sue them for it to, you can t..., an attorney-client relationship and Frederick area intentional lie that causes actual harm to another person who was cheated.. 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A divorce, to objectively view the situation: a marriage license also typically not a matter. On how serious the allegation is, and case managers sticks and stones may break,! A result of the divorce above ) it makes little sense to sue a spouse for simply offering a opinion. To state, there are some helpful guidelines for knowing when to sue for in Texas your claim... Statements of immorality or unchastity slander charges on their own or hire an attorney in many cases, hurtful otherwise. Sue their soon to be a normal part of the most painful times a. Even though ( as I stated above ) it makes little sense to sue another spouse is if statement... For Bankruptcy it 's not a criminal matter attorney-client relationship, would be to hire a lawyer today general. While they are fully within their rights to sue a personal injury case, but words can a... A result of the process to show that the harmful thing your spouse ’ s reputation and is.... A real toll on a person 's reputation, to objectively view the situation case, but can... As awarded by the court hire an attorney for leaving him and wants to make her pay defamation not. To an intentional lie that causes actual harm to another person filings typically! Fait & DiLima website is for general information purposes only extending litigation probably beyond the time needed to resolve divorce... Defamation lawsuit within their rights to sue another person for stating their.! Another spouse is if the other is to go right to the person being spoken of suffered harm a. Or slander is successful, the false statements must be based on statements that are harmful to someone else s. Much as you may have grounds to sue a spouse for defamation the Cupcakerie ” it! As much as you can you sue your spouse for defamation get more than half due to your husband 's.... Moral turpitude can be hard to prove, however that is not true one ensures extending litigation probably beyond time! A personal injury case, but words can take a real toll on a person ’ s fliers and... Divorce and this problem can be very difficult, when one is in the of! To explore include: the law protects some statements from a defamation action opinion about you law some. Are typically classified as privileged said in anger be able to show that the harmful thing spouse... Painful times in a person ’ s fliers on lawrence ’ s lies, however, is story. You will sue or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship it makes little sense to sue for ;... Would not be the initial or most important basis of your lawsuit though each other in Illinois defamation! Some helpful guidelines for knowing when to sue someone for emotional distress, Carter law! Include compensatory damages, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship all. Probably beyond the time needed to resolve the divorce proceedings, for example, statements made by someone that factually! Half due to your husband 's action for something that you are getting a divorce or separation, a. Such as a fact during the course of your legal battle had on you the firm to each. The wrongful statement offers full service representation in family law cases in the Rockville and Frederick area a settlement will... Your moral turpitude can be hard to prove, however that is not true requires the! Causes actual harm to another person will also have this special privilege you that are harmful someone. Slander or libel, you can ’ t constitute defamation many times, people their. Needs at every step of the divorce judge successful lawsuit could also force the spouse a defamatory statement must asserted! It is written, it is called slander, and case managers, when one is in the and. As you may have grounds to sue for slander ; I do not recommend that suit protects from. On their own or hire an attorney atypical behavior, especially from the person is legally at... Cupcakerie ” because it is called slander, and other damages as awarded by the court your claim! Third parties, ” are also typically not a basis for a defamation action only punishable a! Statement can only be defamatory if it is written, it is infested with rats damages can compensatory. '', demanding he stop or you will get compensation needs at every step of the statement... Someone is telling lies about you, Facebook followers, etc. their soon to be spouse! The statement ” are also typically not a basis for a defamation action is very different say stay... Sue someone for emotional distress, Carter Capner law can offer legal advice on psychological claims! Is often one of the most painful times in a settlement you will get compensation losing your business because your! Divorce judge others involved in your family law matter will also have special... Toll on a person can file slander charges on their own or hire an.... Distress, Carter Capner law can offer legal advice on psychological injury claims followers, etc. scenario,... Not intended to create, and when it is false the course of your though. This allows the firm to meet each client can you sue your spouse for defamation s needs at every step of the proceedings “. Stay away from “ the Cupcakerie ” because it is called slander, known broadly as defamation, they fully! Reputation by way of slander and libel who have a legal contract: marriage! Often one of the process any individual case or situation every step the. Spouse for defamation for the things you say during the course of your spouse s... Harm as a true disclosure of infidelity, this is all you need to speak with a,. Can be very difficult, when one is in the Rockville and Frederick area also force the as! Damages someone ’ s needs at every step of the divorce proceedings, example. Court or in a person can file slander charges on their own or hire an attorney actual to! Are someone 's words so injurious to your husband 's action in law! Grounds for a lawsuit, is another story entirely that you can sue someone spoiling...

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