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Plaintiff Reports Divorce Papers Signed Under Duress


This is a case being heard before the Special Term of the Supreme Court of Nassau County in the state of New York. This plaintiff in this case is Jean DiRusso and the defendants in the case are Fortunato DiRusso and Regina Anna DiRusso. A New York Family Lawyer said the action before the court is for a declaratory judgment and is the fifth litigation brought forth between the plaintiff wife and the defendant husband. The plaintiff wife is seeking a judgment stating that she is the lawful wife of the defendant husband and that the defendant husband and the defendant, Regina Anna Furrer-DiRusso are not husband and wife. The plaintiff is asking that the defendant husband be required to support the plaintiff and that he and the defendant Regina Anna Furrer provide fees for counsel and disbursements for prosecution in this action.

The defendants have answered and join in a request for a declaratory judgment and counterclaim for a declaration that the plaintiff wife is not the lawful wife and that he and Regina Anna Furrer are legally married.

Case Background

A New York Custody Lawyer said that on the 13th of February in 1960, the plaintiff was caught in a motel raid. On the 22nd of February, the plaintiff acted on the advice of counsel and signed a separation agreement as well as a power of attorney and an answer in an Alabama divorce proceeding. On the 25th of February, 1960, acting as the plaintiff, the defendant in this case was granted a decree of divorce from the current plaintiff by the Winston County Court in Alabama.

On the 25th of June in 1960, the defendant husband was married to Regina Anna Furrer. On the second of November, 1960, the plaintiff began an action in the Supreme Court of Nassau County against the defendant husband alleging that the motel raid had been staged between the defendant husband and the man that she was found in the motel room with at the time of the raid. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said she argues that the separation agreement and the Alabama divorce papers were procured by fraud and while she was under duress. She requested that the separation agreement be set aside and the divorce decree in Alabama be declared as void.

Court Discussion and Decision

The plaintiff was represented by counsel in the Alabama action and was given the opportunity to litigate the question of the defendant’s domicile at that time. However, the portion of the separation agreement that waived the support for the plaintiff was determined to be void as there was no proof of the defendant’s income provided and the plaintiff’s demand for alimony was dismissed without prejudice.

A Nassau County Custody Lawyer said the plaintiff issued another decree to have the divorce order reversed on the grounds that neither the plaintiff or the defendant were residents of divorce. This took place in 1965 and the defendant was served with the papers regarding the matter and chose not to appear. A decree that is dated the 25th of May, 1965 vacated the decree of divorce from 1960. The defendants argue that this decree is not entitled for recognition in New York because the defendant did not appear before the court in Alabama and for this reason the court had no jurisdiction over him.

Obviously, the decrees from the Alabama courts are not consistent. The court has reviewed the facts of this case and has determined that the plaintiff is not entitled to a declaration that the defendants are not husband and wife. However, the plaintiff is awarded her rights to support and other economic interests as entitled as the former wife.

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