Don’t Make Side Deals

Divorce parties often make side deals or adjustments to their relationship without consulting a lawyer. While Courts and lawyers encourage cooperation, making significant changes to the divorce order without actually changing the order is very, very dangerous.

An example is found in the recent case of Gaiennie v. McMillan, No. 2012–CA–01772–SCT (5/15/14). There, the Mother was supposed to make a contribution to a college fund, called MPACT (a state sponsored college savings plan). The grandfather established a different college program, so the Mother and the father agreed that the Mother could pay private school tuition instead of contributing to the MPACT plan.

Later, disagreement arose and the Mother sought a written acknowledgment from the Father of their side deal. He refused and later sued her for contempt. The trial judge found her in contempt. Although the case was later reversed for other reasons, the lesson is the same: don’t make side deals.