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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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can i sue an ex spouse for emotional distress The stress caused

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can i sue an ex spouse for emotional distress? The stress caused by her from keeping our children away from me impeeded my job, forced me to move out of state to find work (she had a restraining order against me and the children which lost me a job opportunity). I have had to fly back and forth for court proceedings, pay a superviser to supervise visits, pay a GAL to evaluate the case and now her attorney is asking me to pay her fees for my contempt motions (which were found in my favor). I was also not allowed my court ordered two weeks time with the children during summers for three years, and now she won't answer my phone calls to speak with the children, I don't even know about their well-being. She won't keep me updated on the sale of our marital home. She won't update me on where they go to school or their extra curricular activities. She has lied about me in court. Def of character? Negligience? thank you!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress is extreme and/or outrageous conduct of a sort that is designed to cause, and does cause, extreme emotional distress in the subject. "Extreme and/or outrageous conduct" has been described as "that which is intolerable in a civilized society." As a matter of public policy, a child custody hearing isn't going to fall within that category, because the system wants to encourage parents to go to court and get custody and support orders. In addition, it would be difficult to show that the other parent's motivation here was purely to hurt you, and not to do what is best for the children. If she's behaving pursuant to a court order, that's another reason that you unfortunately couldn't recover.

A negligence action comes about when a person falls below the typical standard of care expected of a reasonably prudent person, causing physical injury and/or property damage. Emotional distress damages are allowed in many negligence cases, but what you're talking about is intentional conduct. It doesn't sound like it's an accident that these things are occurring.

As far as defamation goes, a defamatory statement is an untrue, factual statement, made to a third party, that harms the reputation of the person about whom the statement is made. If she's making statements about you in court that aren't true, those are subject to a qualified privilege. There is an interest in encouraging people to speak out in open court, so a person cannot be sued for those statements. However, if she's making untrue statements about you outside of court, and beyond what is necessary for the court case, then you might have a cause of action for defamation.

I understand that you may be disappointed by this Answer, as it is not entirely favorable to your situation. However, it would be unfair to you and unprofessional of me were I to provide you with anything less than truthful and honest information. I hope you understand.

Good luck.
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