April 27, 2009

Can I sue my spouse for abuse?

     Clients often ask me about what remedies they have against an abusive spouse. In a divorce action, the issue of abuse is often completely irrelevant, especially in a case where there is no dispute over the parties’ rights with regard to children. I always advise clients to obtain a restraining order if their spouse has abused them within the last 180 days. For many clients, abuse has happened, but outside of the statutory window necessary for obtaining a restraining order, and their is no issue regarding children. In these situations, I normally tell clients that they are out of luck. There is, however, one other option, a tort claim for spousal abuse.

     The Beaverton, Oregon law firm Case and Dusterhoff, LLP recently obtained a verdict for their client in a spousal abuse case in which they alleged Assault and Battery along with Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The jury’s award was not very large, but the result was certainly a large moral and legal victory as such claims are rarely seen.