If You Don’t, Who Will?


The Legal Right of an Individual to File a Tort Suit against His/Her Own Spouse

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Marriage | 0 comments

It was not until the latter half of the 19th century, when the Married Women’s Property Acts or Married Women’s Acts was passed into law, that some US states began to slowly terminate the common law unity of a husband and a wife and recognize the legal rights of married women, allowing them, henceforth, to contract, hold and defend their property interests and, most importantly, to sue their husband for whatever legal reasons (many other legal rights of married women were, of course, recognized during this time).

Prior to this, the legal existence of women, by virtue of her marriage, was either suspended or consolidated into that of her husband, under whose person she got her identity and the right to perform all other things. Thus, in case someone were to file a lawsuit against her, then it will be her husband who will be the defendant; in the same manner, if she were the one to pursue a legal case against another, then it will be her husband who will act as the plaintiff.

This marital condition, wherein the legal identity of a couple was placed totally in the person of the husband, was called a woman’s “coverture.” And, due to the spousal unity or single legal identity of a husband and wife, the doctrine of interspousal immunity, the common law that forbade spouses from filing tort lawsuits against one another, became to be accepted. Based on this doctrine, a married woman can never sue her husband for reasons of personal injury (resulting from negligence) since it would be absurd for the husband to be both plaintiff and defendant simultaneously; in other words it is unthinkable that a husband would file a personal injury lawsuit against himself.

Between 1920 and 1940 many US courts began the partial abolition of interspousal immunity – a result of the increased and broader reading (and deeper understanding) of the Married Women’s Acts. Despite this bold move initiated by some states, many persevered in recognizing the common law doctrine, rationalizing that: while an interspousal tort lawsuit would certainly only disrupt marital tranquility, immunity will surely preserve marital harmony; spouses may only connive to engage in fraudulent liability insurance claims; instead of filing a tort suit, an injured spouse should rather pursue divorce or a criminal charge as alternative remedy.

Though these arguments prevailed in many courts in the past, many also began abandoning these eventually, so that by 1970 majority of US states began allowing intentional tort suits which pit spouses against each other. While the rule of immunity may still be observed in specific situations, its abolition in the area of tortuous suits is already total. To date, Louisiana is the only state that has retained the doctrine of interspousal tort immunity.

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The True Costs of Divorce

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Bankruptcy, Marriage | 0 comments

It is a given that divorce can be life-changing, and not always in a negative way. There are situations where divorce is the most viable option, especially when a couple finds it impossible to continue on with the marriage. Some have even found that a divorce has significantly improved their relationship with their ex-spouse, and after a period of adjustment, has affected children in positive ways.

However, divorce can be a costly undertaking, and filing for the divorce is the least of these. In most counties, the filing fee is between $100 and $350. In Lewisville County, for example, the filing fee currently ranges from $279 to $303, depending on the add-ons. A Lewisville divorce lawyer will know what kind should be filed for the client. Speaking of which, the legal fees for each spouse typically start at $5,000, and this can go up significantly depending on how contentious the case is. But legal fees are not the biggest costs of divorce.

The biggest cost to a divorced couple is maintaining a household on one income instead of two. The costs will depend on whether there are children and if it was a two-income household to begin with. If one spouse was the sole breadwinner, the costs of alimony and child support can have a tremendous impact on the him or her until such time as the non-earning spouse starts working and the children reach the age of majority. The average American may find that the costs of divorce can be so high that filing for bankruptcy may become the only viable route out of financial distress.

Few people are prepared for the unexpected costs of divorce, and the debt burden may be too great to bear. This is why prenuptials are a necessity that many couples neglect upon getting married, and sometime  comes back to haunt them later. There are many advantages to filing for bankruptcy because of divorce, but the timing is crucial. If you think you will run into financial trouble, it would be best to discuss the matter with divorce and bankruptcy lawyers to get a clearer picture of where you stand and your best options.

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