In New Jersey, a spouse can sue the other for injuring them in some way. However, the injured spouse must file for divorce or have a pending divorce process to bring up this type of claim in court and receive compensation. Since a marital tort claim can influence the distribution of property, spouses who suffer from abuse could benefit from this right by acquiring a bigger share of the marital property.
What constitutes a marital tort?
Spouses in New Jersey can file a marital tort claim before or after divorce. A tort is a wrongful act that causes harm to someone else. A marital tort happens when one spouse injures the other physically, mentally or financially. If your circumstances apply, you could sue your spouse or soon-to-be-ex if:
- You suffered from domestic violence (including verbal threats, kidnapping, trespassing and physical or sexual harm)
- Your spouse transmitted you a sexually transmitted disease (without your permission or while sleeping)
- Your spouse intentionally inflicted emotional distress on you
- Your spouse didn’t allow you to go out (false imprisonment)
- Your spouse hid assets from you
- Your spouse damaged your reputation
- Your spouse disposed of your marital assets
- Your spouse interfered with custody rights
- Your spouse invaded your privacy
- Your spouse monitored your conversations (wiretapping)
If you are a victim of any of those torts, you may have the right to ask your spouse for economic and non-economic damages in court. In some circumstances, spouses who file this claim may also receive a larger share during the court’s distribution of property. This may happen when a spouse disposes of the marital assets, so the courts make it up to the other spouse.
Putting a stop to the abuse
Your spouse may not be happy about the divorce, but that doesn’t give them the right to act wrongfully and injure you. By filing a marital tort, you could try to make them compensate you for everything you went through. You could also ask for a bigger percentage of the property in divorce if their acts caused you financial harm. This is your right under the law in New Jersey, and you can fight for it in court.