HOW TO NEGOTIATE A FAIR AGREEMENT? Don’t. Let your spousal support lawyer do it for you.

This post is going to start and end with the same sentence because I want to make sure everyone gets the message: No one who isn’t a skilled spousal support lawyer should ever try to negotiate their own spousal support agreement.

The timing of the negotiation can be significant. Many spousal support lawyers fail to get a spousal support award in place right away even though it’s not retroactive. In other words, if I file for divorce in January and my husband moves out, but I don’t get a spousal support order until June, I could have lost 6 months of support that I’ll never get back. 

I always advise clients to bring their partner to the negotiation table really early on while the parties still care for each other and feel an obligation toward each other, and before another person enters the picture and emotions harden. At that point it’s over.

I recently negotiated a rather unusual spousal support agreement in which my client had signed a rock solid prenup, he was going to walk away with nothing. But I capitalized on the argument that when they signed that agreement, they were a different couple – they didn’t have children. Now they do, and what she owes him as a human being and the father of her children is to buy him a $5 million house because spousal support can come in many different forms. She signed. Timing was everything. We had to get it done immediately because at that moment, she felt guilty. But in a year she almost certainly will not. Experience and an understanding of people are essential to this work. 

A good spousal support lawyer knows what’s in the agreement as well as what isn’t.

Spousal support language in the marital settlement agreement can be very tricky. The definition of what counts as income for purposes of spousal support in a complex divorce in Silicon Valley is complicated given all the various types of income that can be had. It’s much more than wages – any income from any source that hits your tax return applies including rental income, pension and retirement income, insurance/unemployment/social security benefits, bonuses, etc. 

But what spousal support lawyers often do is they try to narrow that list down in their agreements. And if you’re not an expert reading those agreements, you might not pick up on that. I read a spousal support agreement where the attorney tried to limit support to only income from his client’s employment; meanwhile he’s making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on interest and dividend income, and they tried to limit it to W-2 income.

No one who isn’t a skilled spousal support lawyer should ever try to negotiate their own spousal support agreement.

Your average person who hasn’t written and read hundreds of agreements does not know enough about their rights to talk to their spouse about support without talking to their spousal support lawyer first. So often, a client will tell me, “We’ve got that all worked out and I’m getting this much in spousal support.” And I’m like, “Dude, you have totally set yourself up for failure. You should be getting much, much more.” Don’t let that become your story.

Are you looking for a spousal support lawyer

If you or someone you love is headed for divorce, learn more about how an experienced spousal support lawyer can best represent you and your values. Call us now at 650.343.3486 to schedule a consultation with us. If you’d prefer, you can email us to set up your appointment. If we miss your call, we will respond promptly and call you back as soon as possible. 

Laughlin Legal Family Law Group

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