Spousal Emotional Abuse as a Tort?
Ira Mark Ellman
Arizona State University College of Law; Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology; Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley
Stephen D. Sugarman
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law
Maryland Law Review, Vol. 55, p. 1268, 1996
This article addresses the issue of whether states should recognize a cause of action by one spouse against another for intentional infliction of emotional distress as set out in section 46 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. While divorce is possible in all fifty states without any showing of fault, and in the majority of states fault plays little role in the allocation of property and the fixing of spousal support obligations, the pervasive character of no-fault reforms masks a discontent that occasionally surfaces in the cases as well as in the scholarly and professional literature to incorporate into the law a code of conduct for marriage has its source in worthy values that are both instrumental and moral. This article surveys the landscape of discord that might lead to marital abuse, analyzes the case for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and concludes, somewhat reluctantly, against the general recognition of spousal emotional abuse as a tort, although we are prepared to support tort claims between spouses for emotional harm in certain more narrowly defined settings.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 76
Keywords: No-fault divorce, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Family Law
Date posted: September 3, 2009
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