We have all been there. You are strolling through a department store or car dealership when you happen across that item you just have to have. Whether it is a television, hand bag, car or pair of shoes it always seems to be “just barely” not in the budget. You stop in front of it. You let the idea of the purchase weigh on your conscious a moment. You consider the pros and cons, reference your budget, carry the ones and zeroes out of your mind and decide to the pull the trigger. All you have to do is pull out your wallet, hand over the cash or sign on the dotted line. You do so and leave elated with your brand new something and you could not be happier with your decision to purchase. Until hours, days, sometimes weeks later you realize you did not make the most logical purchase. You begin to panic and wonder how you may go about obtaining a refund. The term for this crisis is called “buyer’s remorse” and it is an affliction derivative of human nature.
How does “buyer’s remorse” have anything to do with your divorce case? Well, there happens to be a little something divorce attorneys identify as “settler’s remorse”. When compared to buyer’s remorse this affliction is quite similar. You walk into mediation or your spouse’s attorney’s office planning to “browse” your options. When you get there you happen upon an agreement that will get you what you so desperately want, an uncontested divorce. A divorce without negotiations, emotionally exhausting discussions and costly attorney’s fees. An agreement that, if you sign it, will end this relationship once and for all. So you sign on the dotted line and leave the office or mediation elated to have the uncertainty of divorce behind you. That is until hours, days, sometimes weeks later you realize you agreed to something that is practically impossible to live by. You begin to panic and wonder how to undo this agreement you so rashly entered into.
The motivation of a “buyer” and a “settler” is the same, “instant gratification”. A “buyer” wants to purchase and enjoy the goods. Similarly, the “settler” desires certainty and finality to the divorce process. Unfortunately, both buying and settling may have a serious impact on your quality of life after the settle or purchase. I frequently receive numerous inquiries from spouses suffering from settler’s remorse. In most cases, the spouse attended mediation unrepresented by counsel and signed a mediated settlement agreement they now realize may be difficult to live by. In other cases, the spouse signed a settlement agreement proposed by their spouses attorney and did not fully understand the provisions of this agreement at the time of signing. Quite frankly, the list of scenarios involving spouses who enter into a settlement agreement they later seek to undo is exhaustive with facts and circumstances that would shock and amaze.
If you are suffering from settlors remorse you need to remember that time is of the essence. You need to immediately obtain a copy of the agreement you signed and bring it to an attorney for review. Just like any retailer’s exchange and/or return policy, the Court has a policy regarding how long you may wait before forfeiting your right to set aside your settlement agreement.
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