When a couple is represented by attorneys, all negotiations should take place through the attorneys either in a meeting or in writing. In some cases one party will try to approach the other party directly in an effort to get a better deal. The consequences can be significant.
For example, the Wife makes strong demands and the Husband hopes that he can convince her to lessen her demands without discussing it with her lawyer. Wife agrees to accept less than she initially demanded. Husband now thinks he has a settlement. Wife talks to her lawyer and changes her mind. Husband tries to get the court to force Wife to take the settlement she agreed to.
While it is important that spouses be able to and do in fact communicate, you must be sure you.understand the nature and extent of the concessions you are making. Never tell your spouse that you have a “deal” or an “agreement” until you have discussed all of the possibilities with your lawyer. All settlements should be put in writing by the attorneys.
Ann O’Flanagan is an attorney who handles family law exclusively in Flanders, New Jersey.