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But You Already Agreed to That

March 29, 2018  | 

{3:42 minutes to read} It’s clear that until an agreement is signed, the tentative agreements you make along the way are not legally enforceable. But, those tentative agreements are vital as you progress from meeting-to-meeting in order to reach an overall settlement.

While you are free to change your mind up until the time you sign your name on the agreement, there can be consequences to making changes to something you previously agreed to:

Other Terms Can Change As Well

There is always a balance to an agreement. People make agreements based upon what is important to them and will meet their interests. And sometimes, you agree to do “x” because the other person agreed to “y.”
 
So when you make a change to a major term that the other person is relying upon, there is a good chance that he/she will then want to make a change to something he/she agreed upon. That doesn’t mean that the person is being petty and changing terms just because you did. It could mean that they gave up something valuable to them based on you giving up something valuable to you. When that balance is altered, the whole agreement could collapse like a line of dominoes. 
 

Accusations of Delay/Non-Commitment to the Process 

While you may be sincere in wanting to make a change, the other person may just think that you are delaying and trying to drag out the process.

Lack of Trust

To you, it’s just looking at things differently and simply changing your mind. To the other person, it can appear as if you are not keeping your word. Recognize that you may need to re-establish trust and your commitment to finalizing the mediation.

All of the potential consequences of changing your mind aside, if this is something significant to which you feel you can no longer agree, you need to raise the issue. It’s better to deal with the fallout now than to sign an agreement containing terms you do not believe are in your best interest and which you will resent later.

So, If you’ve decided that you want to change a major term that you’ve previously agreed upon:

  1. Be aware that other terms you didn’t expect to change may be altered, and don’t dismiss them out of hand or become resentful;
  2. Explain in a way that the other person understands why this is so important to you and why you didn’t recognize it initially; and
  3. Demonstrate that you are open to letting the mediation process continue.

And before you agree to something that you’re not sure about, remember that rather than yes or no, it’s perfectly okay to say:

  • Maybe;
  • I need to think about that; or even
  • Let me wait and see how other terms go.

Then, outside of the meeting, you can give some real thought to the issue in question so that when you do commit, you’re sure about it. 

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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