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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Tort; Marital Tort; Domestic Tort


Term Definition Tort; Marital Tort; Domestic Tort - a wrongful act that creates the basis for liability against a defendant, who is called the tortfeasor.
Application in Divorce Some states allow spouses to bring torts in conjunction with divorce actions, and many divorced or divorcing spouses now bring tort claims against each other for misconduct that occurred during the marriage.

A marital or domestic tort is a tort between former spouses. Most jurisdictions have now repealed the doctrine of spousal immunity, permitting spouses (usually women) to bring marital torts (usually personal injury actions) in connection with domestic violence. Marital torts, moreover, can be lodged in connection with intentional or negligent acts, including the transmission of sexual diseases, psychological distress and emotional injury, slander and libel as well as dissipation of community property.

In a marital tort, as in all torts, there must be a violation of some duty owed to the plaintiff, and generally that duty must arise by operation of law, not merely an agreement between the parties.

Torts are civil actions arising from the conduct, deliberate or careless, of one individual in dealings causing harm or damage to another, and they also arise as a result of intent or negligence.

Intentional torts, which may result in civil and criminal liability, includes such actions as assault, battery, false imprisonment, libel, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, wrongful death, interference with business. Negligent conduct results from a deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person is expected to exercise.

In marriage and family law, alienation of affection and interference with family relations (in acts associated with the parental alienation syndrome (PAS)) may be grounds for an intentional tort.

No-fault and uncontested divorces doe not include marital torts.

See also Marital Tort; Negligence; PAS.

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