Defamation Claims in Divorce Cases

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Divorce is often an emotionally charged process, and it may lead to one party verbally attacking the other. If this exchange of words involves false or misleading statements that could severely harm the reputation of either spouse, a defamation suit may follow.

Depending on whether whatever words spoken match legal criteria, an aggrieved spouse may bring such a claim against their partner during a divorce. If you’re dealing with such a situation, you can follow the steps for filing a defamation suit.

Step 1 – Learning the Distinction Between Slander and Libel

When someone spreads untruths about another person and causes harm to their reputation in society, it’s known as defamation. The law recognizes two types of defamation in particular. These are slander and libel.

Slander is verbal defamation, while libel is written material, like what we see on social media. As you take legal action against your spouse, you must learn the difference between slander and libel. Mislabeling the type of slander could weaken your case.

Step 2 – Defining Defamation in Divorce

When a marriage comes to an end, defamation may follow. If one of the partners makes malicious statements about the other that are demonstrably fabricated, it can have devastating consequences for their public image. Within a personal context, the fallout may harm the victim’s social life. Beyond personal consequences, it may negatively impact their employment and finances or could give them an unjustified criminal record.

Defamation could take shape in inaccurate claims of abuse, adultery, or financial mismanagement. The statement must be false on all accords to qualify as defamatory. This is imperative. “Half-truths” and subjective opinions will not count. Even though words may be hurtful and emotionally damaging to some degree, the law will not consider them libel or slander unless they are completely false.

Step 3 – Proving Defamation

The first practical move to get justice for defamation, beyond learning one’s rights, is glaringly evident. You must unequivocally prove that your former partner made false statements. Aside from them being matter-of-factly untrue, the defendant must have presented it as a fact, not a subjective opinion.

It follows that the individual claiming defamation must also show beyond doubt that the statement had the power to cause reputational harm. This could be the loss of job prospects, ruined personal relationships, or profound mental and emotional anguish.

Never is this undertaking more difficult than when the perpetrator of such slanderous speech is prominent or powerful. For this reason, keep in mind the concept of power imbalances. You could use it to your advantage in court, as it should recognize your vulnerability. But it could be your greatest enemy if you’re on the receiving side, so thoroughly go over this concept with your lawyer.

Step 4 – Legal Protections and Limitations

Rules of law protect both sides, within reason. Although, there are also limitations and precautions. Some of the rules could be classified as both depending on perspective and who is on the losing side. But they’re there to keep the proceedings fair.

One example is the litigation privilege. Anything either of you say during court hearings or under oath is safe from claims of defamation. Any words that you or your ex utter in the courthouse won’t be a part of the dispute or add up to libel lawsuits.

For better or worse, libel and slander cases are exceptionally difficult to prove. As an illustration, a survey of 534 precedential defamation cases shows a broadly varying success rate, depending on the court, the ruling judge, and the facts. Simply put, it’s hard to predict or guarantee the outcome.

The stringent rules, although they might look discouraging, are justifiable. False allegations of defamation (especially if the claims involve abuse) can be equally as harmful as defamation. Indeed, they’re a form of defamatory offense themselves.

Step 5 – Consult a Legal Expert

If lies and untruths during a divorce have wronged you, consult an experienced lawyer. Going through a defamation lawsuit is a long and arduous process, so you will unquestionably benefit from an expert’s know-how, experience, and unbiased opinion.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you think that somebody has publicly made untruthful statements about you during divorce proceedings, it can affect your legal rights. An attorney is the best source to help you understand and deal with this complex matter. Don’t let false and damaging rumors pass without challenge; speak with a knowledgeable lawyer for support.

To discuss your case and get more information from experienced legal professionals, contact Berenji & Associates.

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