By Amy Feldman

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – How can you have accord and satisfaction if you wouldn’t be satisfied with a billion dollars?

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Despite the fact that Sue Ann Hamm’s divorce from her oil baron ex-husband did not, in her opinion, amount to a fair and equitable division of property because she wound up with one tenth of the couple’s assets which is to say about a billion dollars (with a “b”) she cashed that check.

That was a critical mistake. Nope, not letting a fox like that go. Cashing a check for less than what she demanded.

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There’s a legal principal called accord and satisfaction which says that people can settle a dispute they’re having if one party agrees to take something other than what he originally thought he was entitled to, like an offer to make a lower payment (that’s called the accord) when he accepts it as payment (what’s called the satisfaction). The claim, by law, is considered settled.

It’s meant to encourage informal dispute resolution and it’s accepted in every state. So if a check is given that has “full and final satisfaction” written on it and you cash it, you have settled it, even if you didn’t mean to.

This only works if there’s a genuine dispute, not as a bargaining tool in a debt where the person making the payment’s got no actual case.

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But, poor billionaire, the ex-Mrs. Hamm found she was hog-tied by her decision to cash the check.