Articles Posted in Separation Agreement

It is not uncommon for married couples to separate while contemplating whether they want to legally end their marriage. In such instances, they will often enter into a separation agreement indicating their rights and duties during their time apart. Such agreements are essentially contracts and are enforceable as such. There are exceptions, however, like agreements that are the result of overreaching or duress that will cause a court to deem them unenforceable, as demonstrated in a recent New York case. If you are determining whether you should end your marriage, it is smart to talk to a New York divorce lawyer to determine what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the husband initiated a divorce action asserting that the parties had been living separately under a property settlement and separation agreement filed nearly two years prior, as per Domestic Relations Law ยง 170 (6). The husband sought summary judgment to enforce the separation agreement, while the wife countered with a cross-motion, alleging that certain provisions of the separation agreement were unconscionable and the result of fraud, duress, coercion, and lack of financial disclosure by the husband.

One of the most contentious issues in most divorces is how assets should be divided. In some cases, though, parties are able to come to an agreement independently. Separation and settlement agreements will typically be enforced by the New York courts, but they can be set aside if they are deemed unconscionable or were not entered into willingly. This was demonstrated in a recent New York opinion in which the court deemed a settlement agreement a wife signed without legal representation void. If you are interested in seeking a divorce, it is smart to meet with a New York divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 2007 and had three children. The husband, upon discovering the wife’s extramarital affair, clandestinely consulted an attorney in March 2020 to draft the agreement. In April 2020, the husband orchestrated a meeting at the marital home, during which he presented the agreement to the wife and recorded the interaction on a laptop. The husband presented two options to the wife: signing the agreement that day or facing a contentious divorce.

Allegedly, the husband informed her that, upon signing, she had to leave the marital home due to financial constraints. Despite minimal time spent reviewing the agreement and the husband’s suggestion of seeking legal advice, the wife signed the agreement, and a notary public, arranged by the husband, notarized it. The wife subsequently initiated legal proceedings to set aside the agreement. The trial court ruled that the agreement was void and unenforceable, after which the husband appealed. Continue reading

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