Is There “Buyer’s Remorse” in Family Law?
We have all heard of – and most of us have experienced – that feeling known as “buyer’s remorse”. It’s that uneasy sense that a person feels, usually the day after making a long-considered and rationally-dubious purchase of some non-necessary item, that they paid too much. Or sometimes, that they should not have made the purchase at all. For example, it may involve the purchase of high-end racing bike – a splurge premised on an optimistic plan for future weekly rides in order to get fit. But after bringing the bike home, its steep price-tag may start to look exorbitant in the light of the next day or the next week, after the heady rush of excitement fades a little. (And often, these same high-priced items get relegated to the basement storage after a few months, where they sit as a painful reminder). Does this “buyer’s remorse” feeling happen in Family Law? Sure. It is common for the parties to a settlement negotiation to come away feeling vaguely dissatisfied, or outright taken advantage of, in the days or weeks following a settlement. . This is because an effective negotiation always involves some element of compromise and give-and-take: I’ve heard it said that a good settlement is not one where both sides are happy (which is likely impossible anyway), but one in which both sides are slightly unhappy. The act of settling a dispute feels very much like committing to buy something, at the price being offered. The problem is that the personal “value” of the settlement – in terms of what is being given and what is being gained, has a large subjective component to it. Where the “balance” falls is always a personal determination. So how to avoid “buyer’s remorse”? Make sure:
• You understand your rights. Hire a good lawyer to explain them to you.
• Your position is reasonable. Identify for yourself, privately with your lawyer in advance, those areas and topics that are non-negotiable and those in which you see some “give”.
• You are well-prepared. Improvident or uneasy settlements are most likely to occur when an issue or topic for negotiation takes you by surprise.
Bottom line: It is natural to have second thoughts. But these can be minimized by getting good information in advance of the settlement process, and by getting good legal advice that will help define your rights in the particular circumstances. By extension, this will influence whether you have reasonable expectations and a good feeling about the eventual outcome. At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.