Divorce is rarely a simple and unemotional process. In many cases, the two involved parties are tense and have animosity toward each other. Hurtful and hateful comments are not rare in consideration of divorce proceedings.
Unfortunately, these statements may lead to false claims. Many clients ask their family law attorneys what steps they can take in pursuit of making these claims stop. Family law attorneys try to understand the role defamation plays on the divorce case so that they can make good decisions for their clients.
Read this guide to learn more about the role defamation may impact your divorce or any upcoming litigation. You may be surprised to learn how often defamation occurs.
Defamation is intentional false communication with the intention of harming another person. Defamation can be either verbal or written, but true statements that may be negative are not considered defamatory. Additionally, defamation cannot stem from a statement of an opinion.
Social media is now typically considered a means of communication that may result in defamation. These rules indicate that making comments on social media like Facebook or Instagram can actually impact your divorce proceedings.
Many people use defamation as a means of proving fault in a divorce or as an attempt to demonstrate that one party does not deserve alimony or custody of a child. Defamation can severely impact parent-child relationships.
Judges do not take defamation lightly. The words you write or say can severely impact relationships, employment, and even court proceedings.
Considering the Role of Defamation in Divorce
Defamation is especially difficult for individuals undergoing divorce because the damages are potentially life-altering. When an individual makes defamatory statements, they are often trying to make another party look bad in court. Judges understand this.
Still, many of the statements involved in divorce fall under the umbrella of litigation privilege. Privilege allows for immunity from claims of defamation if statements are made in the courtroom during the divorce proceedings. Witness testimony, for instance, is typically not a type of statement that individuals can sue for.
Such privilege does not extend to statements that you make in personal communications. Text messages between your ex-spouse and another person, phone calls, and private messages are all considered defamation. You may need to present evidence of these statements in court.
In some cases, divorce court judges have actually considered the role of defamation in their cases. After spending such a long time in the courtroom, judges often have a good sense of what kinds of statements ex-spouses make against each other.
If your ex-spouse brings in screenshots of social media communications featuring defamatory statements, judges may take this into account when hearing statements you make. Either party making defamatory statements may face consequences in court.
Some judges may consider some forms of defamation to be precursors to parental alienation. Judges take alienation of a parent seriously because it impacts the child's ability to maintain strong, positive relationships with each party.
Suing for Defamation
In some cases, you may be able to sue an ex-spouse for defamation. Since defamation is a civil offense rather than a family or criminal offense, the process of filing suit is different from divorce or pressing charges. You can discuss your options with your family law or divorce attorney.
Divorce is difficult, especially when tensions run high. Talk to your divorce attorney if you have more questions about divorce and other family issues linked to your case.
Allan Brandon Tise, PLLC, Attorney at Law understands the heavy toll divorce can take on many aspects of your life. Call today to set up a consultation to discuss your legal situation.