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IF IT AIN’T WRITTEN DOWN, IT WON’T HAPPEN

Divorce negotiation is a tricky thing. It is much more complicated than a business negotiation because of the emotions involved. It is also made difficult by the fact that few married people can negotiate at what we call “arms length.” Each party has emotional leverage on the other. Most often, one party has superior emotional position, financial power or control over the other. It is the job of lawyers to “level the playing field.”

There is a danger, however, to those who enjoy less negotiation power, or who want out of the marriage, or who want things to be pleasant. In the spirit of cooperation, or in an effort to end the conflict, sometimes people agree to written agreements with a side understanding that certain other things will be done.

Don’t go for it.

Whatever is not written in an agreement cannot be relied upon. Even if the promise is made in good faith–which is rarely the case–circumstances change after divorce, and the desire to honor the promise may pass. Clients should advise their attorneys of any verbal side deals they may be relying upon and seek their advice before signing an agreement that has verbal side deals attached to it.