Appeals Court Refuses to Set Aside Man’s Divorce Settlement on Insanity Grounds

A California appellate court rejected a Los Angeles man’s argument that he lacked the mental capacity to sign his divorce settlement.

James Sylvester and his wife finalized their divorce in July 2009. Thirteen months later, he asked the trial court to set aside his divorce settlement because he was “mentally unstable or under duress when [he] signed the petition.” Sylvester also sought to get spousal support from his ex-wife.

Sylvester submitted as proof of his insanity statements from his ex-wife’s lawyer that he might be “mentally unstable” and a July 2009 police report which described him as “delusional.”

He also claimed that his ex-wife’s attorney coerced him into signing the divorce settlement and “continually and systematically broke down his mental stability.” Sylvester also said that he was afraid of what might happen to him if he did not sign the divorce papers and was worried that he “might get killed before the trial date” so his wife could collect on his life insurance policy.

The Court of Appeal rejected Sylvester’s arguments and held that he failed to provide any legal citations or authorities in support of his case.

Source:  LA Weekly, “California Appeals Court Tells James Sylvester He’s Not Crazy Enough to Get Out of His Divorce Settlement, Chris Vogel, December 14, 2011

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