Can I force him to sign the settlement agreement?
In short, the answer to this question is: no, you can’t force him to sign the settlement agreement.
A settlement agreement is exactly what its name indicates: an agreement between the two parties. It means that you and your husband have agreed to the terms laid out in the settlement agreement. In order to agree to the terms, you both must be willing participants. If you must force him to sign, then he is not a willing participant.
Duress, coercion, or undue influence
In order to force someone to sign paperwork, you’d have to use duress, coercion, or undue influence to get them to sign.
Duress is the use of threats or undue force. An extreme example of duress would be if you held a gun to his head in an attempt to force him to sign. He’s left with no viable alternative other than to do what you want, so he has to sign.
Coercion or undue influence
Coercion can be very similar to duress, in that it’s usually the use of threats to get what you want. The threats can be direct or indirect, but their intention is to instill fear and convince your husband to do what you want him to do: sign the papers.
Undue influence is also very similar to coercion and duress, except that it’s often steady pressure applied over time. It’s persuasion rather than threats. This persuasion could take the form of threats, but it can also take the form of other statements that are likely to persuade someone. For example, it could be telling your husband that if he doesn’t sign the settlement agreement, the divorce will drag out, and the kids will blame him. If he signs the paperwork because he doesn’t want the kids to blame him, you’ve used undue influence.
If I can’t force him to sign, then what do I do?
You can’t force him to sign, but what you can do is talk to him. A settlement agreement is, again, exactly as its name states: an agreement. If he’s refusing to sign, then there’s something in the agreement that he does not agree to. Find out what that is, and try to compromise with him.
A settlement agreement is intended to move things along, and make the divorce easier. When the two of you can agree on an issue, it’s one less thing that the judge has to deal with, and it ensures that you and your husband are both happy with the outcome on that issue.
But it’s also important to remember that not everything must be agreed to for the divorce to proceed. The settlement agreement should show the things you can agree on, but doesn’t have to include every last potential issue. If there are items that you can’t agree on, you can go to mediation or ask the judge to make the final decision for you.
Emotions run high in a divorce, and frustration can boil over and make you want to do things that you shouldn’t. A lawyer can help keep things calm, and keep you and your husband on track and calmly discussing the issues in your settlement agreement. They can also advise you when it’s time to let the judge decide.