You’ve reached that magical moment in your divorce litigation when the attorneys are exchanging versions of a settlement agreement. You are now reviewing version six. You are tired. Frustrated. Almost ready to just accept whatever is in this sixth version. You say to your attorney those words that make most attorneys cringe: “We will just work that part out on our own, so just leave it out.”
This phenomenon is what I like to call “settlement fatigue.” It is very real. Can be contagious, and undoubtedly debilitating. Most importantly, if a client succumbs to it, it can have long term effects. Even in the simplest of cases, most settlement agreements are quite comprehensive and often filled with protective legalese. At its core, a settlement agreement should specifically address each and every issue in the litigation, including but not limited to: custody, child and spousal support, real and personal property, financial accounts, debt and any other issue in the particular matter.
Several of these issues are resolved by formulas (ie – retirement accounts, support), which are specifically set forth in the agreement, and require little input in that regard from the clients. Other issues, such as parenting time, require great specificity and input. Despite this, clients often leave much of the specifics out, choosing to believe that good will shall prevail if and when there is a problem. Not a good idea! The lack of specificity in settlement agreements results in an inability for either party to clearly understand their respective rights and obligations.
As such, it can cause inordinate issues even years down the road, and result in post judgment litigation, which can be emotionally and financially draining. The cure for “Settlement Fatigue” is a deep breathe, a clear head and open communication with your attorney. Whether your fatigue appears at version six or version twelve of your settlement agreement, know that if it is properly addressed, you will feel better soon.