Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: Should I Negotiate On My Own With My Spouse?

Attorneys are placed in a difficult position in answering a client’s question about negotiating on their own with their spouse.  On the one hand, we want our clients to make their own choices and, contrary to popular perception, don’t want clients to incur legal fees unnecessarily.  On the other hand, we cringe when we hear that a client has reached an agreement with their spouse without understanding their legal rights or the significance of the decision.

A problem arises when a couple has done their own negotiation and then brings that agreement to their respective attorneys.  Once the clients receive legal advice, if they no longer want to abide by their earlier agreement, it can create a large obstacle to further settlement discussions.  Rightly so, one party may have felt the right to rely on the other person’s representation and will invariably mistrust a lawyer who has dissuaded their client from honoring that agreement.

What is recommended, at a minimum, is that you enter into such conversations with your spouse conscientiously.  You both may agree that these discussions are very tentative and should not be relied upon in any way until you both have advice of counsel.  Alternatively, you may want to meet with a lawyer before you begin those discussions, so you are well informed before discussing details.