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David L
David L, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 3255
Experience:  Practicing family law attorney in multiple jurisdictions
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I signed a divorce agreement under duress, I was suffering

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I signed a divorce agreement under duress, I was suffering from severe depression at the time. I plan to keep my end of the bargain, as in the payoff to my spouse for half of our property. However, our agreement does not state that it must be paid in one lump which he is asking for. I feel that it would be fair to make three equal payments with a promissory note. Is there a clause regarding signing under duress/stress in Maryland? Our settlement papers had a mention of it as not being under duress and not charging abandonment but it kind of seems reduntant if you are under duress to sign a paper saying you are not. Got any advise for me? Thank you!
Ina Colfelt
Westminster, Maryland
Hi. As a general statement and legal concept, it's pretty hard to come back later and claim duress. If the legal system routinely allowed this defense, most contracts would end up not being enforced. Having said that, if your divorce is not yet final, you may have a chance to get out of that agreement before the final decree is entered. Regarding the payment stream, if the document doesn't address how it is to be paid, I think it's more than fair to offer alternatives to a lump sum. Chances are, if you went back to court to fight over the method of payment, the court would give you a reasonable amount of time.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Just please clarify that since the paperwork says that at the time of Absolute Divorce, the two shall agree on the value of the home (we have) and I shall pay him one half of that. It does NOT say one lump sum or spell it out at all, not sure if he left it deliberately vague, why would his lawyer do that, I wonder. Would you advise that if he insist on a lump sum that I can fight it and ask the court to spare me from a huge financial hardship? Thank you!
It seems odd that the payment terms wouldn't have been specifically addressed within the agreement. You might raise that issue now and not agree to final divorce until it is incorporated into the terms, to avoid problems later.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you, I think I will take your suggestion and not agree to final divorce until it is incorporated into the terms. Thanks again, very useful information.



You bet. Good luck. That's a huge potential hardship on you that you should resolve before final decree.