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Lawsuits Are an Option for Domestic Violence Victims

Posted on in Family Law

Lawsuits Are an Option for Domestic Violence VictimsThere are more avenues than criminal court to seek retribution for domestic violence and abuse. A victim can sue the alleged offender for civil damages, even if the accused was acquitted of criminal charges. This right extends to cases of marital tort. A victim can sue his or her spouse and hold him or her accountable for monetary damage as if the two parties are not married.

Examples of Marital Tort

An action that intentionally tries to hurt someone is known as a tort. Marital torts commonly but not exclusively involve some form of domestic violence or abuse. Examples of marital torts include:

  • Assault or battery;
  • Threats of violence;
  • Marital rape;
  • Emotional abuse;
  • Intentional transmission of an STD;
  • Defamation;
  • Fraud; and
  • Denying access to vital resources.

A marital tort can also extended to actions that caused physical or emotional harm to children of the marriage.

No ‘Heartbalm Torts’

Illinois passed a law in 2015 that eliminated forms of marital torts that were viewed as archaic. Called “heartbalm torts,” these torts were used as a means of retribution in cases of infidelity. A spouse could sue the third party involved in an extramarital affair for:

  • Alienation of affection, accusing the third party of seducing a spouse and causing the divorce; and
  • Criminal conversations, which actually referred to having sexual intercourse.

The torts were eliminated because spouses were abusing them to receive unnecessary damages. Infidelity often occurs as a result of irreconcilable differences that were already leading to divorce.

Marital Tort and Divorce

A spouse seeking compensation for a marital tort may also choose to divorce. However, filing for divorce and suing for damages should be considered separately. Illinois divorce courts do not give monetary awards based on cases of domestic violence and abuse. Instead, the divorce court will use credible accusations as evidence of a spouse's character when:

A plaintiff in a marital tort lawsuit may have greater success by filing the lawsuit in a civil court. The damages being sought are ultimately separate from what is awarded in a divorce settlement.

Order of Protection

If you are the victim of domestic violence or abuse, you must protect yourself before you worry about receiving civil damages. Filing a criminal complaint and obtaining an order of protection will require your abuser to leave your home and stay away from you until the case is settled. A McHenry County family law attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you with obtaining an order of protection, filing for divorce and suing for civil damages. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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