Is Your Former Spouse or Partner Making Threats? Coercion in Florida Family Law Cases
In Florida family law cases involving divorce, division of marital property, and child time sharing plans, disagreements between the parties are a regular occurrence. It is common for tempers to flare up in these proceedings. There may even be threats such as, “I’ll never give up my share of this property” or “I’ll make sure you never see your children again”. Sometimes, these are just words said in the heat of the moment, concerning issues that are later negotiated with the help of each party’s attorney. In other situations, these amount to specific threats with the potential to impact settlements and court orders. If you were pressured or coerced into accepting terms that violate your rights or are not in your best interests, you may be able to get the agreement or settlement overturned.
Agreements Based on Coercion
Coercion is defined as being under duress to take actions or to acquiesce to situations you would otherwise not accept, if given your own free will. It generally involves actual or implied threats to your physical, emotional, or financial well being. In divorce and time sharing cases, coercion can be used to waive parental privileges or the rights to property and assets, and to agree to terms that are otherwise not in your best interests. Examples include:
- Agreeing to a lesser settlement after your partner threatens to destroy certain assets;
- Agreeing to lesser terms in response to threats of revealing potentially sensitive information;
- Conceding to agreements in response to threats to drag out proceedings, disrupting your schedule, jeopardizing your job, or costing you money you cannot afford.
While paying ‘hardball’ is a common tactic in family law negotiations, there is a point where it crosses the line. Even in terms of premarital agreements, the Florida Statutes provide for these to be overturned if there was any duress or coercion placed on either of the parties prior to signing of the agreement.
Getting an Order Overturned
Once a judge issues an order in a family law matter, getting the order overturned is not a simple process. In general, you have to show a compelling reason as to why the District Court of Appeals should review the decision. This often involves:
- Errors in how the law was applied in your case;
- Compelling evidence previously undisclosed or not presented to the court;
- Settlements or orders which are unreasonable in favoring one party over the other.
Coercion can be used as a grounds for overturning your order, and it does not always have to involve the direct actions of your former partner or spouse. You may have felt unduly pressured by their attorney or from the mediator or judge involved in your case.
Let Us Help You with Your Case
If you feel that you were coerced into making agreements or accepting settlements not in you or your child’s best interests, reach out and contact attorney Vanessa L. Prieto. We can arrange a free consultation in our Fort Lauderdale office to discuss your situation and the legal options available.