Divorce is an emotionally heightened time for many individuals. To satisfy a duress claim, an individual must experience more than stress or uneasiness. If individuals are able to demonstrate that duress existed, however, it is possible to modify the terms of the divorce. It is essential that individuals who might have felt pressured or forced into signing a divorce settlement consider whether the individual was forced to sign under duress.
What Constitutes Duress
Duress occurs when a former spouse either performed an unlawful act or threatened an individual to sign divorce papers. When determining when duress conditions existed during the signing of divorce papers, a judge will analyze an individual's state of mind. Some of the events that are found to constitute duress include:
- Failure To Disclose. Duress is often found when a former spouse fails to disclose information to an individual prior to signing paperwork. The rationale why this act constitutes duress is that an individual in this situation would not have signed the agreement in question if the individual had known all available information.
- There Was No Chance Of Negotiation. In situations where an individual signs a divorce settlement because there is no reasonable change that the former spouse will negotiate or compromise, a court is likely to find duress.
- Threats. The use of threats if an individual fails to sign a divorce settlement is often considered divorce. In situations where a spouse threatens to embarrass or annoy another individual is often not a substantial enough threat to justify a duress finding. Threats that extend to an individual's family are also often considered to be duress.
- The Loss Of Free Will. If an individual signs a divorce settlement without free will then the individual is considered to have signed under duress. The individual must provide evidence that the former spouse prevent the individual from exercising any free will while signing the document.
Reopening A Divorce Due To Duress
Individuals who attempt to modify the terms of a divorce due to duress face a substantial burden. To modify the divorce settlement, individuals must demonstrate that exceptional and compelling circumstances exist while filing a motion with the court. This motion must alleged that duress cause the divorce to resolve in an unfair manner. An individual will be required to prove that the divorce settlement was signed under the influence of duress. One way that individuals attempt to prove that duress existed is eyewitness testimony, which can prove invaluable in a duress claim. Another type of evidence is information about the prior dealings of a husband and wife including the couple's previous relationship. In some situations, individuals might be able to produce written proof of threats that the duress existed.
How An Experienced Birmingham Divorce Attorney Can Help
If you are involved in a divorce that involved duress, consider retaining the services of an experienced Birmingham divorce attorney at Eversole Law LLC who has experience helping individuals in similar situations.