A Side Deal is No Deal

Mace Greenfield Client/Litigant/Pro Se Information

In any type of court case, the only provisions and terms of a settlement deal that are enforceable are those expressly set forth in the written contract.  In divorce, child custody, child visitation and spousal or child support the contract is usually referred to as a stipulation of settlement or separation agreement.  I have had clients who have told me they were willing to sign deals that gave them little to nothing because he or she trusts his or her spouse to take care of him or her for life.  If your spouse intends to do right by you, why wouldn’t your spouse be willing to put in it in writing? Exactly, because he or she plans on screwing you over sooner or later without being held accountable, and there is nothing you can do after signing the agreement giving up everything you may otherwise be entitled to.

Well, maybe you can sue to try to void the agreement for being unconscionable or unreasonable, but no guarantee you will win, and just how much might that cost you? Do it right today to protect yourself later.  If you want to be nice and not take every penny you are entitled to, that is up to you, but first you need to know what there is for you to take or give up.  Thus, it is always best to get complete discovery and appraisals.  By doing so, if your spouse who is probably trying to screw you from the start making empty promises, you can hold him or her liable for your share of undisclosed assets he or she may have that you did not know about at the time of the agreement for his or her failure to disclose.  But if you enter the agreement waiving the discovery and appraisals, you will most likely be shit out of luck.

If the statute of limitations has not run, you could try to sue your lawyer for malpractice for letting you enter the agreement.  But if your lawyer had half a brain he or she made you sign a disclaimer that you were advised against entering the agreement without complete discovery and appraisals but you are doing so against his or her advice.

Most of my clients over the years when insisting on entering such a deal, once presented my letter to sign, change their minds.  Only one or two have gone forward anyway.  One client woke up enough to negotiate much more be put in the written settlement agreement that was supposed to be a side deal to ensure enforceability later to avoid being screwed.  This is not the type of being screwed that gets you jewelry or dinner, so be smart and avoid it.