Some courts have defined undue influence as “manifest irresistible coercion” that deprives a person of volition to dispose of property as he desired.
Undue influence is the “fraudulent influence over the mind and will of another to the extent that the professed action is not freely done but is in truth the act of the one who procures the result.” COMMENT: To invoke undue influence as a means of voiding an executed document, an individual must establish that he or she had no free will when they signed the document in question.
In this case, the husband, an attorney, and his spouse entered into a separation agreement. Moreover, the court noted that the husband’s testimony indicates a fatal lack of disclosure concerning his financial affairs.
Therefore, “[t]o set aside an agreement on the ground that it was the product of . Threats of violence can be held to constitute duress in order to set aside a separation agreement.
Repeated harassment by a spouse seeking the other spouse to sign a separation agreement has been found by the courts to constitute duress.
A threat to institute criminal prosecution can amount to duress where there is no question as to guilt.
Moreover, for purposes of duress, a plaintiff must demonstrate that threats of an unlawful act compelled his or her performance of an act which he or she had the legal right to abstain from performing; a mere threat to do that which one has the legal right to do does not constitute duress.
In this case, the husband had refused to give the wife a financial statement regarding his assets, and had threatened to blow up the house and throw Clorox all over her clothes if she did not find an attorney who would let her sign the proposed separation. OBSERVATION: The essential characteristic of coercion which emerges from these definitions is that force, threat of force, strong persuasion or domination by another, necessitous circumstances, or some combination of those, has overcome the mind or volition of the defendant so that he acted other than he ordinarily would have acted in the absence of those influences.
The husband, in a dissolution proceeding, petitioned for review of the trial court’s determination to set aside a property settlement agreement. [F] –Proof There is no formula for determining whether the actions and behavior of one spouse in the circumstances surrounding the execution of a separation agreement will be held to constitute duress.
[D] Coercion–Defined Coercion has been defined as “the imposition, oppression, undue influence, or . [E] –Distinguished from Duress “Coercion” is often treated as a synonym of “duress.” In some decisions, however, a technical distinction has been made, and “coercion” has been used to indicate one of the elements of duress, namely, the pressure applied to the victim, consisting of the wrongful conduct, act, or threat involved. Thus, each case is considered separately on its own facts, and the result depends on the condition and circumstances of the person to whom the pressure is applied.
Threatening or coercive statements made by one spouse may generally be introduced by the testimony of the other spouse or third parties who were present at the time.
[A] Introduction In order that a separation agreement between a husband and wife may be upheld as valid and enforceable, it must have been entered into freely, fairly, and voluntarily, and be free from coercion, duress, or undue influence.
A separation agreement that is a product of coercion, duress, or undue influence can be set aside.
The requirements of common-law “duress” have been enlarged to include any wrongful acts that compel a person, such as a grantor of a deed, to manifest apparent assent to a transaction without volition or cause such fear as to preclude him from exercising free will and judgment in entering into a transaction.