How To Void A Settlement Agreement in Maryland When There Is a Big Difference Between Spouses in Education or Finances
In marriages, there are many things that couples have in common, such as hobbies or interests. However, there are many marriages in which there are differences when it comes to certain aspects of life. There are couples with varying backgrounds when it comes to education, intellect, and financial capacity.
These differences often play a role in divorce. Large disparities could be used by the dependent spouse to claim that the other spouse used their position of power or economic advantage to create a marital settlement agreement that was laced with or marked by fraud. This means that even if you have your spouse’s signature on an agreement, the litigation issues still need to be settled, which is a big reason why you need to have an experienced family law attorney.
So how exactly does this issue with fraud regarding settlement agreements work? We have a recent case in Montgomery County involving a couple, Peter and Nancy, who got separated in 2010. Nancy’s lawyer drafted a detailed marital settlement agreement in April 2014 to settle or resolve all issues out of the marriage. Nancy signed the agreement in her lawyer’s office. She allegedly asked Peter to meet her at a bank the same day.
It is important to point out that Nancy had a lawyer, but there was no mention of Peter having one at that time or that a lawyer ever reviewed the agreement for Peter. It is highly likely that Peter did not have legal counsel at that time the agreement was created and signed. It cannot be overemphasized that a divorce is an adversarial process, no matter how amicable or civil you are with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. You will always need a lawyer who is duty-bound and ethically involved to craft a strategy that will protect and fight for your rights and best interests. You do not want to rely on your spouse to act responsibly and for the good of everyone involved.
Peter met Nancy at the bank and signed the marital settlement agreement in front of a notary.
Confidential relationships between couples and voiding marital settlement agreements
When Nancy sought a divorce, Peter was now supported by a legal counsel. Peter argued that he and Nancy had a confidential relationship, which Nancy abused to get a signature from him. He argued that the agreement should be marked by fraud and not enforceable due to these circumstances.
Spousal confidentiality arises during criminal cases, which works in a different way in divorce cases. In this case, a confidential relationship exists when one spouse is dominant and the other one is dependent. When a dependent spouse challenges a settlement agreement in court, the dominant spouse must then prove that the agreement was not marked with fraud. The elements that the court will take a look at in a case like this are age, mental condition, education, business experience, state of health, and degree of dependence of the spouse in question. An experienced family law attorney will be familiar with this detailed list. They will be able to use their knowledge and experience to help you reach a solution that benefits you.
If you are seeking to enforce a marital settlement agreement or are looking to have it invalidated, you need the help of a family law attorney. This is the best way to ensure that you are protected and are able to have your goals met.
Schedule your consultation with one of our attorneys today so you can gain some peace of mind regarding your marital situation.