Buyer’s Remorse After Signing a Settlement Agreement
Buyer’s remorse, as defined by Wikipedia: “Buyer’s remorse (or buyer’s regret) is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagances, or a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.”
While buyer’s remorse is usually associated with the purchase of material goods, it can, in the case of a marital settlement, refer to the agreement signed by both parties following mediation. (In Florida mediation is mandatory before a court date can be set for dissolution of marriage or post judgment modifications) This agreement is put in writing and will be given to a judge for adjudicating the final decree of a dissolution of marriage or the modification following a final decree of child support, alimony, and/or the parenting plan and parental time sharing arrangements. In most instances the settlement reached during a mediation is helpful to all, the court system as it keeps the docket free for complex cases, the parties involved as it shortens the time to have their marriage dissolved, allows parties to make their own decisions regarding their futures, and costs less than going to court with all the attorney’s fees attached to motions, depositions for discovery, as well as time in the courtroom, and the attorney’s as it looks good to the judge when they can help their clients settle rather than take a case to court. Sometimes, however, the mediation process proves to be unsatisfactory, even though a settlement is reached. Looking at the three problems presented in the definition of “buyer’s remorse” they can be applied to a settlement agreement as well as to buying a car or house.
Fear of making the wrong choice: “What if I won’t be able to manage in the future because I agreed to less permanent alimony than I should have? Will my minor children be angry that they must spend more time with their other parent than they really want to? Shouldn’t I have insisted on keeping the large screen TV I enjoy so much?” might be some of the questions which could provoke fear of having made the wrong choice. As there is no going back on the results of equitable distribution (in Florida) and it is expensive, time consuming, and difficult to obtain a post judgment modification of alimony (and some types cannot be modified), and parental time sharing, a sense of wishing things had turned out differently and fear that it is one’s own fault they didn’t, can certainly be a cause for “buyer’s remorse”.
Guilt over extravagances: Sometimes one party, perhaps in trying to show the other party they still love them, will be extravagant in giving away too much, especially in the area of marital assets and assuming too much of the marital debt. Later, “buyer’s remorse” sets in when it is realized the other party has gone their “merry way” and the party remaining knows they were too extravagant. In most instances nothing can be done to change what has already been given to the other party in the final settlement after a judge has decreed it.
A suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller (the other party): Again, “buyer’s remorse” can set in when following a settlement agreement a party realizes the other party has unfairly influenced them. This can easily happen if one attorney is more experienced and better prepared for the dynamics of a mediation and drawing up of a settlement agreement than the other attorney. It can also happen when one party is so emotionally distraught at the time of the mediation he or she cannot think straight and will agree to a settlement not in their best interests. Later, when emotions have settled down and he or she can think clearly it is too late. They have been “overly influenced by the seller” Here is where a competent attorney should step in but they don’t always do so or may not be experienced or prepared enough to do so.
What can be done to prevent a situation where “buyer’s remorse” sets in following the signing of a settlement agreement? As mentioned, making changes after the dissolution is adjudicated is difficult and expensive and sometimes not even possible. And, unless there is some extreme extenuating circumstance such as not following the law, a settlement agreement signed by both parties cannot be changed. The best solution to prevent “buyer’s remorse” is to have an attorney who is experienced in the mediation process and seems really interested in your case and helping you gain an outcome satisfactory to your particular needs. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, or Orange County in Florida or in Washington DC Family Law attorney Grant Gisondo will provide outstanding representation regarding mediation. He has over 10 years experience as well as being a Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator. To answer your questions and discuss the topic of mediation, Attorney Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation. HIs office is located in Palm Beach Gardens where he meets with clients Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (unless he is in court) and Saturday from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm for new clients. To make an appointment call (561) 530-4568.