Can the divorce settlement be appealed if I signed under duress?
Most spouses that go through duress are at least under some form of pressure. This means that there was some sort of pressure to get the case settled. If one of the partners used some form of forces to get the case settled, this is considered as duress. Under these circumstances, it may be considered as not consent as it was not done voluntarily and the divorce case can be reopened again. Divorce appeals on the grounds of duress can be an uphill task, but can be made possible if you can provide relevant evidence to back your claim. It’s prudent that you have a meeting with your attorney prior to presenting your case. This can provide a great insight into the case and the attorney will be in a position to present the case in a better way to the jury.
There are various grounds in which you can appeal for a divorce settlement if you can prove that the settlement was not conducted in a fair manner. One of the most common grounds for such an appeal is if you had signed it under threats. However, this is not always an easy claim and you should seek legal advice from your attorney before any proceeding.
Appealing to the divorce procedure is basically a simple process. To start the process, you will require to file the necessary paper work. This involves a petition or a claim. This serves as an outline of why you want to make the appeal. This step can be confusing hence it must be done correctly. It is advisable that you seek your attorney’s assistance. You can only have a chance to present your full case once the judge agrees to your appeal. Once you win the appeal, you can now start the process of negotiating for your divorce settlement.
What does duress constitute?
It is paramount that as you place your appeal to be in a position to prove duress or the influence. These are the legal terms that are defined in the statutes of any state. The constituent of duress varies depending on the changes of law and other practices, and by jurisdiction. It is therefore important that you discuss the duress with your attorney to see if you are in a good position to prove your duress.
The road to settling a divorce is not always a bed of roses and it’s mostly characterized by some forms of emotional struggles and stress. Partners are always in some sort of pressures to settle the case and move on with life. In order to appeal based on the duress, you need to prove that what happened during the divorce process was beyond human experience and you had no control over. Most importantly, you should have proof beyond any reasonable doubt that the events were so severe that you had no option but to settle for the divorce. Your decision and ability to act in your best interest was corrupted.
This situation can happen if your partner makes or purports to cause a serious harm to your life. This can be if he or she threatened to destroy your property or caused physical injury. In most cases, this threat is more tenuous. Another situation is when he or she could have threatened to reveal your background information that would have jeopardized your livelihood or employment.
Whether the threat is serious or minute, it is enough to constitute duress and the judge is left to give a determination on it. Threats that would have just caused humiliation or annoyance are not usually considered to be serious enough. In other jurisdictions, self-inflicted threats could also constitute duress. An example of a self-inflicted threat is when a person threatens to commit suicide. Threats made to children or other family members could also constitute duress.
In other states, some jurisdictions tend to broaden the scope of duress and they have included the increase of pressure over time and the pattern of behavior over time. Such cases have been witnessed in New York courts where an increase in pressure over time until the person finally broke down was considered as sufficient ground for duress. This decision was considered valid.
Provision of evidence
Provision of evidence and a substantive claim of duress is the most challenging part of the appeal process. It can be challenging to prove in a court on how a person threatened you. At times, your claims can be rendered irrelevant and the scenario may not be valid. This can be fueled by the fact that you don’t have any recorded or written statement that can back up your claim. The evidence needs to show how the event caused duress.
Across the country, courts differ in how they expect the evidence to be presented. This varies based on the law and the jurisdictions of the country. It may also vary with the presiding judge or by precedent. For instance, in some courts, the judge may allow a testimony or evidence from a friend, but in others, they may require more evidence in regards to the case. It can be challenging to identify what exactly constitutes sufficient evidence in duress. This is the most important phase of a legal strategy. It is equally important that you take time and discuss this part with your attorney prior to making an appeal. Your attorney will be in a good position to advise you on collecting evidence that would be useful and what sort of evidence you can collect.