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Forced to sign SA under duress...

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  • Forced to sign SA under duress...

    I lived in a common law relationship for almost 20 years that produced 3 children. For most of those years I did not work .I told my partner I wanted to separate June 1st and decided to start my moving my personal belongings out of the home. I had no savings of my own so I decided to live with my sister. When I returned a few days later the locks were changed and my partner had his father in the home. He proceeded to tell me that by law I could be dragged out by my hair from the home because the mortgage was under his name. We had one child living in the home with us (the others are adults) and he is 14 and witnessed this.

    My partner than blackmailed me into signing a separation agreement that required me to give up entitlement to almost every asset - all was in his name as again I was a SAHP for most of our relationship. This includes his company DPSP, equity in the home, RRSPS and savings. It required me to pay child support to the remaining child (I had no inome...quit my job to move), and also to waive spousal support. Etc. I was given a few thosand dollars but by my estimation it is a very small percentage of assets. The SA also gave an estimation of our home's value based on a market assessment by a real estate agent which was in my opinion grossly under its real value. A proper appraisal was not done either.

    The separation agreement was drawn up by a neighbour who is a friend of his and works as a law clerk. It was signed in the law office she works in after hours. It says in it that I was not under duress and waived legal counsel but this is not true. I was blackmailed.

    What can I do?

    He then threatened and harassed me through text and email for weeks afterwards.

  • #2
    How did he force you to sign it? How on earth did he blackmail you?? You should have gotten legal advice first, any lawyer would have told you not to leave the home until a seperation agreement was in place.

    Hopefully you still have copies of all the emails and texts. Get all your documents together and go for a free consultation with a couple of different lawyers to find out what your options are.


    • #3
      I don't want to disclose how he blackmailed me. But he did.... A lawyer couldn't have helped me with the blckmail anyways...and I had no money to see one remember?

      I was also told that the SA is not valid because it was drawn up and signed in a lawyers office after hours...a lawyer neither one of us consulted with. Like I said the clerk that worked there just used a template from the office's computer.


      • #4
        A lawyer certainly could and would have helped you with the entire situation. Money is not required for a FREE consultation with a lawyer. You could also have applied for legal aid, not sure you can now with an agreement already signed and in place. Perhaps someone else can advise on that.


        • #5
          You take this up with a lawyer IMMEDIATELY. If you wait, then you lose your argument of duress. You may have been under duress at the time, but you aren't now and by continuing to accept the agreement you are giving a tacit consent. Waiting a month is no big deal but if you put it off and put it off and then something comes up, etc, and you decide to take it up in two years, then you have considerably weakened your argument.

          You did not have independent legal advice, so you DEAL WITH THIS NOW. Get independent legal advice. It is good to come to a forum like this and find out if you are wasting your time first, but you to show that you took proper legal steps. Show the court that you were under duress by going to see a lawyer, find out that your rights were ignored and take steps to correct it.

          You were a legal resident of the house and he cannot arbitrarily bar you from the house like that. He needs to go to court and get an order of exclusive possession, and even then he has to allow you access to get your things and make an inventory of joint possessions, and after that length of time there would be some.

          As far as the law clerk, in Ontario Law Clerks are governed by ILCO. Law clerks are not allowed to offer independent legal advice (not there was anything independent about this) and while they can be certified to notarize documents this incident is cause for complaint. You should/must write what you wrote here, with names, addresses and dates, and file this as a complaint with ILCO. You need to take steps like this because you are going to end up arguing duress and you need a paper trail showing that you took steps to deal with it. I know you will hesitate and wonder if you should bother and wonder if you will get this person in trouble. Here is the thing, it is ONE letter you are writing, if they did nothing wrong then ILCO will say so. If they did something wrong, then they have to be dealt with. Period. Meanwhile you have to show that you took this seriously which means dealing with it.


          • #6
            Couldn't agree more. Given the length of the relationship and the fact that you had 3 children together, you are likely entitled to exactly the same things you would be if you were legally married. Get yourself to a lawyer NOW.

            How do your children feel about the way you were treated? That should tell you something.


            • #7
              Call the Law Society of Upper Canada and for $6 on your phone bill they will hook you up with a lawyer for a free half hour consultation to get a handle on your rights. Do it now, no excuses, no delays. If you don't you only have yourself to blame.

              Word of caution. While not all lawyers are sneaky underhanded, many are and they will paint a real pretty picture of how much you stand to gain and they will subliminally appeal to your feelings of being ripped off by your ex in order to bait you in to a lenghty, costly legal proceeding.

              Another thing they will do very quickly under the guise of assessing your legal position will be to root out your financial position. Hold your financial cards close to the vest at first. If they find out you have no money, they won't be interested in taking the case.

              On the other hand, there might a property claim on that house and that could interest them because they know that they can get paid out of whatever you might get from the house.

              Just realize that while you talking in that 30 minute freebie, they are working their unspoken agenda at all times.

              Again, get some free consultations to assess your rights. And do it yesteday.
              Last edited by dadtotheend; 11-24-2010, 11:06 AM.


              • #8
                IF you both had legal advice before signing the SA there would be sheets attached to the back of the SA attesting to that with the signatures of the respective lawyers.
                Write down in as much detail as you can remember what happened.
                A document signed under duress will not stand up in court -- my ex had me sign a pre-nuptial ("If you don't sign this, we won't get married" -- should have taken the hint, and told him, "Fine, the wedding's off". But I digress) which I signed under duress without legal counsel. It was (figuratively speaking) thrown in the trash when negotiation for a Separtion Agreement started.
                Document EVERYthing. I don't know how you prove duress, but the lack of lawyer's signatures will certainly provide some uncertainty about the whole document. And no, he can't have you "...dragged out by my hair from the home because the mortgage was under his name." You are entitled to some share of the matrimonial home, though I'm not sure how it is for common-law marriage.
                You are probably entitled to some spousal support.
                Aside from witnessing a nasty confrontation between his parents, where is the 14 year old in all this? Did your husband threaten that you wouldn't be able to see him unless you signed the trumped up separation agreement?
                You need legal advice and the sooner the better. The advice you've already received is excellent -- follow through on it -- borrow some money from relatives if needs be to retain a lawyer. You need legal help.
                Be strong. :-)


                • #9
                  I can't agree sounds to me that you did not have ILA. Not sure how this works with a common-law relationship, but you need to take advantage of the free consultation.

                  Don't know where you are from, but if in Ontario legal aid will cover cases involving spousal support and equalization (again, not sure how this applies to common-law). They won't cover divorce, but you don't need one.

                  The lack of ILA argument is a strong one...worked for my fiance's soon to be ex, even though it wasn't true...

                  Make some calls ASAP. Don't drag the kids into it, but consider their opinion of the situation

                  Let us know how it works out


                  • #10
                    I believe he would have to file a temp restraining order to keep you out, but even so you CANNOT be dragged out by your hair! The fact that your child witnessed this is UNFORGIVABLE!!!! Was the ex's father also witness to it? Did he approve of this behaviour? If so, the child needs to be somewhere else. Even if its not with you, the kid is entitled to a safe environment.

                    Irregardless of what you're marital status is or what you may be entitled to, your son's safety is the most urgent issue at the moment.


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