Human relationships are complex and result in many ups and downs. Contentious moments can lead to antagonistic actions.
Many people understand that Florida is a community property state regarding marriage and divorce. This fact may raise the question of whether taking a spouse’s property is theft under the law.
What about interspousal immunity?
Many states used to have laws that equated spouses as being one person. The doctrine of tort interspousal immunity prevented one mate from suing the other since a person cannot sue themself. Such laws also intended to eliminate causes for marital disunity.
Florida disposed of this law, as have many states. A person can bring issues of marital tort against another due to reprehensible behavior that occurs during a marriage. Such actions might include:
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Physical assault or battery
- Marital rape
- Infection of a sexually transmitted illness
- Depletion of marital assets
While theft does not make this list in name, depletion of marital assets could be a cause for bringing a case against a spouse. Emotional distress might also be a consideration.
However, precedent in Florida law requires a court to handle a tort of the dissipation of assets in conjunction with a divorce. If the situation involves a third party, a separate case may be necessary.
What about spousal privilege?
Some people have the misconception that a spouse cannot testify against another in court. Florida statutes permit a spouse that privilege, but a person may waive that right. Additionally, no privilege exists when the proceeding arises from one spouse against the other or the charges involve criminal actions of one mate against the other.
Circumstances can permit someone to sue a spouse for charges that relate to theft. Plaintiffs must understand the rules to have a valid case.