Rubenstein v. Rubenstein

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Rubenstein v. Rubenstein
Court New Jersey Supreme Court
Citation 120 A.2d 11
Date decided January 9, 1956

Facts

  • Mr. Rubenstein = plaintiff
  • Mrs. Rubenstein = defendant
  • Mr. & Mrs. are married but separated with 2 young children
  • Their son was diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • The couple owned 2 properties as tenants by the entirety
  • The mother demanded that the father transfer the properties to her so that she could support the children thereon
  • After the father refused, the mother threatened him with violence including lethal poisoning
  • The mother had the father arrested for desertion of the children & non-support
  • In reality, Mrs. had more than enough money to support herself & the children
  • Succumbing to legal threats, the father signed over both properties to the mother

Procedural History

  • The father, next, sued the mother to re-convey the properties back to himself.
  • The father lost in the trial court in New Jersey because, in the court's opinion, there hadn't been duress when he signed over his properties to his estranged wife.

Issues

May a contract or conveyance be voided due to duress if 1 party threatens the other party with physical violence, imprisonment, or mayhem?

Holding

Yes. A contract or conveyance may be voided due to duress if 1 party threatens the other party with physical violence, imprisonment, or mayhem.

Judgment

Reversed

Rule

Judge Heher: Conveyance obtained by duress are in-operative & voidable.

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