Lake Cook Law Group

Can Spouses Sue One Another?

In some cases, a spouse can sue another spouse for egregious conduct. However, the viability of the claim depends on the nature of the spouse's actions, the nature of their relationship, and state personal injury law. There is some additional information on spousal lawsuits and the reasons for which spouses can sue one another.

Considerations During Common Law Times

In common law, lawsuits between spouses are typically prohibited, under the legal belief that a married couple constitutes a single entity. Therefore, when one spouse sues the other, it was equivalent to the spouse suing themselves; the concept was referred to as spousal immunity.

Why Spouses Can Sue One Another

In some cases, spouses may want to sue one another to fulfill legal requirements. For instance, if a spouse causes a car accident, the other spouse may not make enough of a recovery from the insurance company. The injured spouse can sue, which requires them to name the other spouse as a defendant. However, if the case is successful, the insurance company is likely to make the payment.

Rules Against Spousal Lawsuits

Some states' laws prohibit one spouse from suing the other. Even in states with such laws, however, there are exceptions to the rule. For instance, most states allow claims for intentional torts. A spouse can hire and sue his or her partner for battery or assault.

Marital Privilege

Another complexity of marital suits is that spouses may not be able to testify against one another, making proving a claim extremely difficult. Spousal privilege allows spouses to refuse to testify against each other, but state laws differ as to whether the privilege applies equally in civil and criminal cases.

Claims For Alienation Of Affection

Alienation of affection is a common law tort, and it allows spouses to sue the other spouse or a third party if they believe that the person caused a marriage to fail. The tort is not used much anymore, but in the few places still allowing it, spouses are excluded as defendants.

Some states' laws place limitations on the time a spouse has to file an injury claim against the other spouse. Furthermore, some claims must be brought by the Lake Cook Law Group as the couple files for divorce. If a husband or wife wants to bring legal action against his or her spouse, they should consult a personal injury attorney right away.