Lawyers: want to pay off ex-wife

Hi -

I’m divorced, I live in California, I pay alimony. I’d like to give my ex-spouse a lump-sum final payment and be done with my spousal support. Background here*.

I have a Marriage Separation Agreement in California, basically a court order, that says I need to pay support for so many months. I want to hand this person a check and have them sign something I can enter into the record (if there is a later disagreement) that says “yup, I was paid everything under that agreement, signed ex-spouse!” .

My parents were lawyers, one of them a divorce lawyer, so I’m not unfamiliar with contracts and such. Anybody want to give a shot at recommended verbage for that document?

I was thinking something like,

“I, <ex-spouse> upon receipt of x $ agree that this terminates n months of spousal support agreed upon by <ex-spouse> and <me> on <x-date, x-year> entered in CA court case # <case#>, signed <ex-spouse>”. Basically it should be written as an addenda to the court order I guess? I’m looking at my stamped MSA and have the case number and other info handy.

Thoughts? Thanks.

*I have 10 monthly payments left. Ex has lost the support check twice, then found it both times after some hassles and bank nonsense. Now says it’s ‘late’ again. I’m waiting to hear today if I need to reissue a check, but I want to be done with this. After the first two times I started hand-delivering checks, but that’s no longer feasible because of distance. I’ve looked into doing my monthlies electronically but that’s not feasible because reasons. Yes, I’d rather hang onto 10 mo’s of support payments incrementally, but me+ex will be in-person at the end of the month so this is an opportunity to take a different approach if I want to do that.

I’m not your lawyer and I’m not giving you legal advice. I’m also not a California lawyer. However, in my lay opinion, I think if she agrees and you have proof of the total payments made, you should be okay. I would substitute “satisfies” for “terminates.” If you have reason to believe she’d actually lie about your agreement, you could have it notarized.

Procrustus -

Good idea re ‘terminates’. I also like your thinking re notary; we’re not hostile, I have no reason to think ex would lie, but I’m also not foolish. Always dot those i’s and cross t’s and communicate clearly, especially in legal matters, lest hurt feelings or worse arise from misunderstandings.

If she’s on board with it, it seems like a good idea, especially with all the lost and reissued and then found checks.
The only think I would add is that maybe it would make sense to call a divorce lawyer and have them write something up quickly. Even better, see if you and your ex could meet with the lawyer at the same time so all the signatures can as well as handing over the payment can be witnessed. If you called them and let them know what’s going on so they could have the letter ready to go, the two of you would be in and out in a few minutes and I can’t believe you’d be billed for more than an hour or two.

FWIW, even if it costs a bit more I can very much appreciate trying to wash your hands of the entire situation sooner rather than later.

Regarding your letter, clearly the lawyers on here know considerably more than I do, when I read “I, <ex-spouse> upon receipt of x $ agree that this [del]terminates[/del]satisfies n months of spousal support” I’m curious if n equals the remaining months or the total months of support. Only because if it’s the remaining months, it could be argued that this payment satisfies 10 months of support, but she could make claims about previous months.
But, again, that could be me reading it incorrectly.

That does bring up something else, though, if you do talk to a lawyer, maybe bring copies of the cleared checks. That way if there’s a question you can say ‘here’s the first 14 payments, this lump sump is for the remainder of the 24 months’ (or whatever the real numbers are).

JoeyP -

Thanks. ‘n’ would be the total support payments number. I’d like to do this sans lawyers in a friendly (but correct!) way. I can’t imagine ex would be averse to a big check instead of 10 little checks. Bringing in hired guns is a good way to start a gunfight.*

*My father said (and maybe he was quoting), “the only thing needed for a disagreement is two lawyers”

Dude, see the lawyer. If like you say she would like the big check, I bet she’d be okay meeting a lawyer to get her hands on it. I wouldn’t trust this to a piece of paper I wrote up myself.


Dude, this isn’t complicated. I owe her x, I just need a receipt. One that says what the x was for, signed dated.

Thinking about this further, how about:

With previous disclaimers, this looks fine to me.

O-kay, Do what you will. Your the one asking for advice.

…its complicated enough for you to post a thread with a title that literally asks for advice from lawyers.

I’m asking for advice on a receipt. I’ll consider contacting a lawyer for paid formal advice. Having both of us meet together with a lawyer is a) not feasible because we’ll be meeting remotely in neither of our hometowns and b) it’s stupid to make this a bigger deal than it is because I’m giving her a windfall* and I don’t want two lawyers (hers, mine) mucking that up.

*Well, not a windfall: I ultimately owe her the money. I’ve utterly kept up my end, but I owe her this, no argument.

I understand. Another option might be for you to hand her 10 checks for the same amount and ask her to take them all to the bank and deposit them today. That might make for an easier way to avoid having to deal with ‘lump sum’ instead of X equal payments. In this case, you’ve still given her X equal payments, you just handed her the last 10 all at once.

Regarding your father’s statement, it’s a common sentiment, but you’d only need one lawyer for this. Since you’re civil with each other, it’s just someone to write something up to make sure both parties are on the same page.
Beyond that, as long as you’re civil with each other, just tell her you’re giving her the last 10 payments all at once, write ‘final alimony payment’ in the memo and hand it to her. When she cashes the check print out all the cleared checks, double check your math to make sure they add up to the full amount and toss them with the rest of your divorce paperwork. You probably don’t any special paperwork or even a receipt.

The cleared check should act as a receipt, just like it did for all the previous payments.

See a lawyer.

You keep saying it is simple, but let me point out an issue that may or may not be a problem in your jurisdiction.

One of your objectives is to enter into an ageeement with your ex that she can’t back out of later on. A binding ageeement.

In my jurisdiction, the only way to have certainty in relation to a property settlement in a family law matter is to either have final orders of the appropriate court (which can include consent orders) or enter into a binding financial agreement (which is a specific form of agreement requiring certain formalities, including independent legal advice for each party). In the case where there was already a court order, you would need to have the court vary that order to be effective.

What you propose here simply wouldn’t be binding in my jurisdiction. Now your jurisdiction may be different, I have no idea. But it wold certainly be worth your while getting the advice (and indemnity insurance) to be sure.

Wow, that is a stellar idea. Easy peasy. I can prove all umpteen other checks through the bank, and same with this last (or these last if I do 10) the same way. Go to hard copy and we’re done.

Well, it’s also a lawyer’s sentiment, since Dad was one. Lawyers tell great lawyer jokes BTW. :wink: But yes, I’ll consider getting solo advice, but it seems like this really isn’t that complicated, and your advice above makes it seems so. Thank you!!

I’m not entering into an agreement. I’m satisfying a previous agreement. The only variance is I’m paying the settlement earlier than scheduled. Do you maintain that this is a problem?

I have never maintained its a problem.

If you already know the answer, why are you asking for advice?

I’m not a lawyer, and I haven’t seen the order that I assume is paraphrased here, but there is a difference between paying for n months and paying x amount. Do you know with absolute certainty that your plan won’t come back to bite you for failing to make payments during (not FOR, but DURING) the expected months?


I honestly can’t tell if you’re being serious or not.

That’s why I was suggesting that he mail off the remaining 10 payments, not as a ‘lump sump’ but as 10 checks, with a note to deposit them all as soon as possible. That, I think, would satisfy either X amount or N payments.

To be fair, if she’s ‘reasonable’, you could just mail off the remainder and she’ll accept it. She’d have to go out of her way to suggest that this larger payment has nothing to do with the alimony payments and you still owe her 10 payments of $x. Sure, she could run to her lawyer, in an attempt to get you to pay her again but unless this is an absolute ton of money and she thinks there’s a realistic chance of collecting twice, it wouldn’t be worthy anyone’s time (money).