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Duress refers to a situation where one person makes unlawful threats or otherwise engages in coercive behavior that causes another person to commit acts that they would otherwise not commit. 

In McCord v. Goode, 308 S.W.3d 409, the court defined duress as “unlawful conduct or a threat of unlawful conduct of such a character as to destroy the other party's exercise of free will and judgment…the threat must be imminent and the party must have no present means of protection.” A similar definition was laid down by the court in the case of Williams v. Williams, 939 So.2d 1154, in which the court noted that duress “is a condition of mind produced by an improper external pressure or influence that practically destroys the free agency of a party and causes him to do an act or make a contract not of his own volition.”

[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]