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Can I Sue My Spouse for Mental Abuse in My Texas Divorce?

Infidelity in a marital relationship is one of the most fatal wrongs that one spouse can commit against the other. It is a betrayal of not only the trust between the two partners but of the bonds that tie the family unit- parents and children-together.

When a person finds out about an adulterous affair feelings of anger can quickly turn into feelings of revenge. How can I get even? What can I do to have the last laugh in our Texas divorce?

Marital Tort – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Enterprising spouses that have been cheated on, whether in an attempt to save face or to settle the score, have attempted to pursue claims against the "other" man or woman that are based in tort law.

Torts are basically when one person commits a wrongful act against another person- excluding contract claims, as in a business setting. As discussed in a recent blog post, this is not possible in Texas as our state does not recognize this cause of action.

The most common tort pursued by a married person against their spouse is a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. While difficult to prove, the claim involves proving that the opposing party intentionally caused severe emotional stress upon you due to their reckless, extreme conduct.

The law used to be (in Texas at least) that you could not sue your spouse on a claim such as this. However, ‚ÄčThe Texas Supreme Court specifically adopted the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress also known as Intentional Infliction of Mental Anguish in the 1993 case of Twyman v. Twyman.

Proving Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

How can someone prove that this conduct actually caused the requisite level of harm? One can look to examples that deal with alcohol abuse, philandering, and the necessity to seek psychiatric or other forms of therapy to deal with the trauma in order to prove your cause of action.

As laid out by our state Supreme Court, a suing spouse must show:

  1. that the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly;
  2. the conduct was "extreme and outrageous"; [the Texas Supreme Court held in GTE Southwest, Inc. v. Bruce, 998 S.W.2d 605 (Tex. 1999) that no expert testimony was required on the outrageousness of conduct];
  3. causing emotional distress;
  4. that the emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff was severe;
  5. actual damages for severe emotional distress; and,
  6. exemplary damages for severe emotional distress.

Conduct was "Extreme and Outrageous

Anxiety and the need to take medications to subdue anxiety episodes have been shown to aid the case of plaintiffs in this category. Basically, if your feelings or hurt or if you think your spouse has set a bad example for the kiddos- that's probably not going to win the day, or an argument with an opposing party in the courtroom.

The conduct must be outrageous and extreme. Just an affair may not be enough to for a tort, since liability for outrageous conduct has been found only when the has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly interolerable in a civilized community.

Emotional Distress Must be Severe

From a review of the cases that have been brought in Texas where the suing spouse was successful, a physical manifestation of the emotional harm should be shown. Difficulty in sleeping, eating, working are examples of physical responses to emotional triggers.

If you believe that you've been harmed in any of the above ways by your spouse, we encourage you to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our experienced family law attorneys are eager to help those people who have been wronged by their spouse and are interested in pursuing a divorce.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
  2. Is Adultery a Crime in Texas?
  3. My Spouse Has Accused Me of Adultery in my Texas Divorce and I Haven't
  4. When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
  5. Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
  6. 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
  7. Texas Divorce Morality Clause: Be Careful What You Ask For
  8. What does Insupportability or No-Fault in a Texas Divorce Mean?
  9. The Simplified Process for an Uncontested Divorce in Texas
  10. Explaining the Contested Divorce Process in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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