Over 30 years of experience in divorce & family law



Michael Stern, Esq., a New York Family Lawyer with over 33 years of experience suggests that as an aspect of Family Court practice that an open Court record should be made if a litigant in a New York Family Court case believes that a settlement was made under duress before it is finalized.

court houseIn such cases, the Family Court will usually reject the settlement where consent is not unequivocal. However, in the rare instances where it does not do so, the record may prove invaluable when filing Objections or on appeal thereafter.

In a recent case determined by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Judicial Department, the Court held that it was not error for the Family Court to deny a party an adjournment in a proceeding to enforce a support Order. Apparently, in the case, the parties entered into a settlement of the enforcement proceeding and a downward modification proceeding. The Family Court entered separate Orders resolving each of the pending actions. The Father contended on appeal that he was under duress in entering into the settlement agreements. The Father appealed the denial of his Objections and the appeal was unsuccessful. The Appellate Division noted that the Father’s remedy was to move in the Family Court to vacate the orders as opposed to appealing from them. When moving to vacate an Order upon a stipulation, a critical issue is whether a defense to the making of a valid contract is asserted. In this case, the defense was duress. I suggest that it is important for a litigant to elaborate on any potential contract defense in open Court while the Stipulation is being placed on the record to ensure that the point is preserved for Objections or appeal. This is especially important if the stipulation is not truly on consent for any number of reasons.

Focusing on the needs of the client and the results sought have always been a hallmark of my Long Island practice. Feel free to contact me, H. Michael Stern, Esq. a  Long Island Divorce and Family Lawyer, if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or family law matter at hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747-2290.

My Nassau County office is conveniently located adjacent to the Roosevelt Field Mall ring road at 666 Old Country Road in Garden City, New York.

Written by, H. Michael Stern, Divorce & Family Lawyer, Long Island NY.

The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York. This is attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.