Jen in Las Vegas writes:
Are the 20,000 birds in my hand better than the 30,000 in the bush? In our divorce settlement my ex-husband promised me $30,000 if he ever made over $100K with the stipulations of: I never remarried, made under a certain amount of money and didn’t own property. (I still meet those stipulations). It was because he thought he would not have to pay his parents back his half of their loan (at the time they said a gift to us) as a downpayment on our house. Apparently they are now asking for his half. He feels that because he has to pay them AND possibly me (I think he is close to making the $100K) I should settle with him now for $20,000. Should I wait it out and see if I get the full $30,000 or take the money he is offering now? I can’t seem to get over the feeling that I am being suckered again (he cheated with my friend and broke both marriages up). I am 11/09/71 and he is 4/13/66. I would really appreciate your thoughts as I know my window of opportunity is narrow. Thank you, for sharing your wisdom with us all!
Your husband is offering you the $20,000 now because he is at that 100k mark. So, the truth is, you deserve the whole $30,000.
Here’s where the real dilemma comes in. If you choose to stick it out, it is likely you are going to have to fight it out to get what is due you. So, you need to negotiate.
What I would like to see you avoid is having to make this a legal battle. That would hands-down be effective for you, but it also would cut into your take. Your husband feels like he is being more than fair by offering you twenty grand now, because of his other obligations. However, his other obligations aren’t your problem – they are his. But, once again, you could take the high road. It doesn’t make you a sucker, it makes you wise.
The offer of $20,000 is a good one, because it is $20,000 more than what you have now. Accept it. (Cashiers check, please). Properly invested, you can achieve that additional $10,000 – and there is nothing he can do about it. But, as I’ve said, you still have room to negotiate because he did promise you $30,000.00.
Graciously accept the $20,000 now, and be sympathetic to his plight. Remind him that you have financial issues as well, and that this is really going to help you out. However, the deal was $30,000 and the figure hasn’t changed simply because his circumstances with his parents have. Being the reasonable person that you are, you are willing to allow him to cough up the remaining $10,000.00 when it isn’t such a hardship.
Chances are good that you will never see a check for that remaining $10,000.00 because he will feel he has made good. But you can incrementally get it out of him.
What I don’t see is him ever handing you a $30,000.00 check, regardless of the circumstances; which is why 20,000 birds in hand is ultimately better than waiting for 10,000 more to find the bush.
His original promise was made with good intentions, but life does change people’s intentions. Look at the $20,000 as “found money”. It is still a windfall for you, and you can have it without argument or legal intervention. This is a good thing. Plus, if you ever need it, you still have an open avenue to push him for the additional $10,000.00.
Deal or no deal, waiting on $10,000 can cost you $20,000.00. Accepting $20,000.00 can make you a heck of a lot more than $10,000.00 in the time you would be waiting to collect $30,000.00, and save you a lot of aggravation in the process.
Sometimes you have to get while the getting is good. Take the money and run.