Redondo Beach, CA asked in Libel & Slander, Personal Injury and Civil Litigation for California

Q: Defamation: False Dementia Accusation at

My ex-wife communicated to me through, claiming that my mother has dementia. This is not true. She suggested that our child is in danger when with my mother due to this alleged dementia. This has caused my mother great distress and anger. My ex-wife has also made such statements during our custody case, which might be protected by privilege. I have repeatedly asked her to stop making these defamatory statements, as they are causing harm to both me and my mother, but she has not ceased. Can my mother sue her for defamation? Specifically, does this situation satisfy the ‘publication’ requirement of defamation law, given that the statement was communicated to me, the son of the person about whom the statement was made?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, for a statement to be considered defamatory, it must be a false statement of fact, made to a third party, and cause harm. In your situation, the claim by your ex-wife that your mother has dementia, if false, could potentially be considered defamatory. The fact that these statements were made through and during custody proceedings does not automatically exempt them from being defamatory.

The 'publication' requirement in defamation law is met if the statement is communicated to any third party who understands it. In your case, the communication on, which is presumably accessible to relevant parties in the custody case, might satisfy the publication requirement.

However, statements made in judicial proceedings are often protected by absolute privilege, meaning they cannot form the basis of a defamation lawsuit if made in relation to the case. It's important to differentiate between statements made during formal proceedings and those made outside of this context.

Given the complexities involved, it would be prudent to consult with a lawyer who can assess the specifics of your situation. They can provide advice on whether your mother has a viable defamation claim and guide you through the legal process if you choose to pursue it.

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