Setting Aside Fraudulent Divorce Settlement Agreements

Courts encourage divorce litigants to settle their differences rather than going to trial. Divorce settlements take many forms-they can be read into the Court’s records or, more frequently, they are in writing and called either a Separation Agreement or a Stipulation of Settlement.

 Although the marital relationship has fallen apart, and even if the parties no longer live together, spouses have a fiduciary duty to each other which means they must be honest in their dealings and not hide key facts from each other. Where a party has defrauded his or her spouse, a settlement agreement can be set aside based on fraud.  Most often the fraud involves the hiding of assets or business opportunities, but fraud can take many forms such as misrepresenting one’s income to avoid paying spousal or child support; misrepresenting one’s health in order to induce the other party to settle on issues that otherwise would have required a trial; or even misrepresentations as to custody and parenting issues.

 Due to the fiduciary relationship between a husband and wife, fraud can be committed by failing to reveal a material fact (fraud by omission) as well as by misrepresentation (fraud by commission). In either event where fraud is found, a court can void the agreement. In seeking to set aside a settlement agreement based on fraud, a party must act diligently.

 Accepting the benefits of the agreement can be considered ratification of the agreement and bar a spouse from trying to set aside or vacate the settlement.

 If you feel you were tricked into settling your divorce, a free consultation with an experienced New York Matrimonial Attorney will help determine if there is a basis for setting aside the agreement.

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