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Eckstein v. Eckstein - 38 Md. App. 506, 379 A.2d 757 (1978)

Rule:

A separation agreement, being a contract between the parties, is subject to the same general rules governing other contracts.

Facts:

The husband filed a divorce action and obtained a ruling that the parties’ separation agreement was valid even if it was signed by the wife under duress. The wife had a history of mental problems, and she signed the separation agreement in order to see their children and obtain financial help from the husband.

Issue:

Does obtaining the wife’s signature under duress render a separation agreement invalid?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court reversed, holding that the wife established that the separation agreement was signed under duress exercised by the husband. The wife had no funds, no lawyer, no clothes, no transportation, and no viable alternative other than signing the agreement.

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