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Judge finds that extortion led to property division settlement

Many in Florida are familiar with the career of Terrence Howard, star of the hit television series "Empire" aired by Fox. The actor went through a difficult divorce that was completed in 2012 when he signed a settlement agreement with his former wife. The result of that property division agreement was very favorable toward Howard's ex-wife. That, according to Howard's attorneys, was the result of extortion and coercion during the negotiation process.

A judge has reviewed those claims and, in a recent hearing, found that there was undue influence placed upon Howard when he signed the divorce agreement. As a result, the agreement was overturned. The former couple will now have to renegotiate the division of marital assets.

Specifically, the court heard evidence that included a recorded phone call in which Howard's ex-wife threatened to release private information about the actor for payment unless he gave in to her financial demands. On that occasion, the ex demanded that $40,000 be paid by the end of the day. That payment was issued to her via Howard's accountant.

Couples who are in the process of property division negotiations should do so absent any form of undue stress or coercion. If a settlement is reached while one party is under duress, the agreement can be rendered null and void, as in this high-profile example. Anyone in Florida who feels that they have been placed under duress during divorce negotiations may benefit by consulting an attorney to determine if the matter should be brought before a court of law.

Source: ABC News, "Judge Overturns Actor Terrence Howard's Divorce Settlement", Anthony McCartney, Aug. 24, 2015

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