Tampa divorce lawyer

Navigating Divorce in Asheville: Understanding a Recent Court of Appeals Decision

When it comes to divorce proceedings, the involvement of a knowledgeable Asheville divorce lawyer can make all the difference. The recent case of Michael J. Baer v. Melissa B. Baer in the Court of Appeals of North Carolina sheds light on several critical aspects of divorce law, highlighting the complexities and emotional intricacies involved. This case emphasizes the importance of legal representation in ensuring fair outcomes in divorce settlements.

Background of the Case

The Baers married on December 27, 2014, and separated on February 19, 2019, after Melissa Baer (Wife) filed for and was granted an ex parte domestic violence order of protection (DVPO) against Michael Baer (Husband). The couple’s separation agreement became the focal point of their legal battle, particularly the claim that Husband owed Wife a distribution of $587,069.23.

Husband appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing that the separation agreement was executed under duress and undue influence. The Court of Appeals’ decision to reverse and remand the case highlights the complexities involved in divorce cases, particularly when allegations of abuse and duress are made.

Allegations of Abuse and Duress

Husband alleged that he was subjected to various forms of abuse by Wife, including psychological, physical, financial, and emotional mistreatment. He claimed that Wife’s behavior included intimidation, threats, withholding affection, and public humiliation. Additionally, he accused Wife of drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption.

These allegations are significant as they formed the basis of Husband’s claim that he signed the separation agreement under duress. He argued that Wife’s actions, coupled with the pressure of the DVPO and the threat to his career and reputation, left him with no choice but to agree to the terms of the settlement.

Legal Representation and Mediation

The case also highlights the critical role of legal representation in divorce proceedings. Wife initially consulted with attorney Kristen Ruth, who advised her to remain in the marital home until a written settlement agreement was reached. Husband, on the other hand, did not have the opportunity to retain an attorney before receiving a second demand letter from Ruth, which compounded his stress and anxiety.

The couple participated in mediation with certified mediator Katherine Frye, during which Husband alleges he was coerced into signing the separation agreement. He claimed that the threat of the DVPO and the potential impact on his career forced him to comply with the terms set by Wife.

Expert Testimony and Psychological Impact

The affidavit of Dr. Julianne Ludlam, a clinical psychologist, played a crucial role in the case. Dr. Ludlam’s evaluation indicated that Husband was likely experiencing adjustment disorder with anxiety during the separation process. She opined that the psychological pressure and duress Husband faced impaired his decision-making ability, supporting his claim that he signed the agreement under duress.

Court’s Decision and Implications

The Court of Appeals’ decision to reverse and remand the case underscores the importance of addressing genuine issues of material fact in divorce proceedings. The court found that there were unresolved questions about whether Husband had ratified the agreement voluntarily or under duress. This decision emphasizes the need for thorough examination and fair consideration of all evidence in such cases.

For individuals going through a divorce in Asheville, this case serves as a reminder of the importance of having a skilled Asheville divorce lawyer. Legal representation is crucial in navigating the complexities of divorce law, protecting one’s rights, and ensuring that agreements are made voluntarily and without undue pressure.


The Michael J. Baer v. Melissa B. Baer case illustrates the intricate nature of divorce proceedings, particularly when allegations of abuse and duress are involved. The Court of Appeals’ decision highlights the importance of addressing all material facts and ensuring that agreements are made fairly and voluntarily. For anyone facing similar challenges, consulting with an experienced Asheville divorce lawyer is essential in navigating the legal process and achieving a fair outcome.

The Role of an Asheville Divorce Lawyer

An Asheville divorce lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in various aspects of divorce, including:

Legal Advice and Representation: Ensuring that clients understand their rights and options throughout the divorce process.

Mediation and Negotiation: Facilitating fair and amicable settlements between parties.

Protecting Client Interests: Advocating for clients’ best interests, particularly in cases involving allegations of abuse or coercion.

Expert Testimony and Evidence: Coordinating with experts, such as psychologists, to support clients’ claims and provide credible evidence in court.

By engaging a knowledgeable Asheville divorce lawyer, individuals can navigate the complexities of divorce law with confidence and ensure that their rights and interests are protected throughout the legal process.

Asheville Divorce Lawyer

Asheville Divorce Lawyer

If you have inquiries about prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, or if you need expert legal assistance in other areas of Family Law in Tampa, Florida or Asheville, North Carolina—including high asset divorces—please don’t hesitate to reach out to Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group for a detailed discussion of your case. Damien is available for contact via phone at 813-428-3400 or by email at [email protected].

Additionally, we are excited to offer online prenuptial agreements. For more information about this convenient service, please contact us to explore how our online prenup option can meet your needs.