Let’s set the scene. You are pursuing a divorce and your ex-spouse offers to settle the property division and support payments through a marital settlement agreement (“MSA”). You think great, I will not have to spend a lot of money and I will most likely get what I want. As you get into the process your ex-spouse threatens that if you do not sign the agreement the way it is he/she will take the kids away, physically hurt you, or have you killed. Not wanting to risk not seeing your kids, being injured, or killed you sign the agreement. After the judgment is entered you say to yourself, “Wow this deal is horrible, too bad there is nothing I can do since I signed the agreement.”
WAIT! There is something you can do. You can file a Request for Order asking the court to set aside the judgment based on duress. Duress is when a party uses threats to induce some type of action, in this case signing a MSA.
In order to file a timely request to set aside a judgment based on duress it must be filed within two years after entry of judgment (this is a different date than when the agreement was signed). Additionally, a person claiming duress must provide “clear and convincing evidence” to support the fact that the individual was under duress when they signed the agreement.
Duress is only one avenue in which to argue to have a judgment set aside. If you believe your case qualifies to have its judgment set aside please contact Hart Legal to schedule a consultation.