A Lawyer Walks into a Bar

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My opinion of Family Law is a tad jaded, forgive me Tampax, my woman friends tell me your product is top notch!

Hey you, Mr. Middle Aged man sitting in the third row wearing the Titleist hat and regretting not putting on the sunscreen yesterday while you were spraying golf balls all over your local municipal golf course.  I’ve seen that look before.  Hell, I wore it for months myself.  You got blindsided in your divorce and the ensuing custody battle drained your checking account quicker than a cracked pipe at SeaWorld.  Sit back and take it from someone who lived through it first-hand.  Here’s how to handle your divorce without losing an arm and a leg paying attorney fees.

Myth:    Family Law attorneys are your friend looking out for your best interest.

Fact:      Attorneys don’t schedule a lunch appointment without finding someone to bill for it.  Your best interest only comes in the form of currency.  I understand they chose a morally bankrupt profession and expect payment, but depending on the status of your account is what determines your “best” interest.  Sob stories of destitution just get you voice mail next time you call to schedule a meeting.

Now that we’ve established this baseline for dealing with your divorce attorney take a little advice from someone that did lose his arm, leg, dog, house, integrity, and his only child.  I can only speak from divorcing dad perspective doing all he can to get 50/50 custody (another myth if courts are involved and your preferred choice of a bathroom has a urinal) during his divorce.

  1. Attorneys all have a “professional” respect among each other. They may talk bad about the opposing attorney to your face, but there is a good chance a little digging around on the internet you are going to see any two attorneys hobnobbing it as some bar association banquet.  Therefore, give your attorney ZERO reason to contact the other attorney unnecessarily.  The urge to call your ex a magical five letter word that begins with a B (and rhymes with witch) or comparing her to the offspring of Medusa and a water buffalo may be tempting, but in today’s digital age screen images of emails and text messages are hard to explain away.  Remember you are at war now, and you know the enemy better than anyone, don’t take the bait.  Plus, your attorney loves to bill you for that 20-minute phone call.
  2. Speaking of emails, unless you catch your ex holding your child hostage in a war zone, limit any and all communications with your own attorney. Keep notes, send a weekly or even monthly summary.  Emailing your attorney every time, you get a bright idea is going to cost you 20-30 dollars a pop.  I don’t care if you are laying out defense strategy that will be taught at the Harvard Law Review or telling your attorney “Thank You” for doing their job.  Flattery gets you nowhere but further into debt.  Been there done that and have the T-shirt to prove it!  Better yet, hunt around the internet.  There are many third party apps that will keep track of all the crucial information for you at a fraction of the cost (free) of having your attorney do this for you.
  3. Depending on the laws in your state or country AVOID mediation at all costs. Mediation is the gift that keeps on giving for attorneys.  You pay your attorney their hourly rate PLUS half the cost of the mediator (usually another attorney).  Unless we are talking properties in the Cayman Islands and Swiss bank accounts, good chance you are just funding another wing in your attorney’s yet to be built library.  Take your chances in court, again you are dealing with two people that make more money the longer you sit in mediation.  Take it from me and the millions of other guys simultaneously nodding their heads that spent a fortune getting the same exact thing they would have gotten by letting the court decide.  Your more than likely screwed either way so take the cheaper option.
  4. If your divorce is about as amicable as an Israeli-Palestine peace agreement, you can bet your lawyer is eventually going to suggest/demand that any communication with your soon to be ex go through them. Don’t buy into this rhetoric, remember pal, ANY communications with your lawyer costs money.  Just ignore her from now on, and even if you are in the right just document it and maybe it will pay off in the long run.  I stress again do not get caught in the trap of communicating with the mother of your child(ren) or ex through a lawyer.  Seems stupid to even have to type this but it happens every day!  Fellow dad, I get it, I’ve been there, I’ve got the scars to prove it, this new world of going through a divorce involves calculated moves and you can forget common sense.  Lawyers don’t use it and neither should you!
  5. If you are just dealing with a divorce with no kids, congratulations you have saved yourself a few thousand dollars immediately. Unfortunately, for most of us, that isn’t the case.  You can kick, scream, write a daily letter to the editor of your local newspaper and it still won’t matter.  The family law system is not set up to favor a father and your lawyer knows this.  Sure they know you want at the minimum 50/50 custody of your child,(ren) but they also know you will never get it.  I’m not saying accept it (I didn’t), but be prepared for many empty meetings with your attorney telling you to take the deal you are offered at whatever your attorney bills an hour.  Good luck is my advice, again I’m not telling you to punt, but be forewarned.  Unless your pockets are very deep, this could potentially come up fruitless.

Fellow man and father, trust me, divorce is expensive enough.  Use me as your guinea pig to guide you.  Lawyers are expensive, and will smile at you all the while thinking of how much they can bill you.  They aren’t your friend nor enemy, just doing a job that pads their bottom line.  The sooner you realize this the sooner you can salvage your dignity.  It sucks, but unfortunately, it is a way of life in divorce.

walks-into-a-bar-with-his-alligator

I’m not nearly clever enough to come up with this but mojohive.com is!

 

 

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59 Comments

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  12. Hmm. Someone more jaded than I. And, I actually served as financial manager for a family law firm….
    Yes, it drains your bank account- your wealth- your pension. At least in my case, the expense did provide me the gold ring… having the chance to raise my kids the way I hoped to raise them had I not gotten divorced. And, amazingly, the kids are well-adjusted and seeming to be doing very well. (Perhaps, despite both their parents ???)
    But, as my son once observed as we were relaxing at home- abba, we used to be rich. My response- but you all were worth it.
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted…A Promise Kept- but one that ruined AmericaMy Profile

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  17. Here, mediation is intended as a method to avoid lawyers & therefore substantial court costs, not to involve them! It is also required in most cases – you have to go through mediation & attempt amicable, informal resolution before you can bring a court case.

    Yes, you should absolutely always avoid telephone calls and emails with lawyers – it’s a very expensive endeavour! Lawyers who only ever dealt with publicly funded clients, however, will now it’s not the clients avoiding the phone calls in those cases. Clients who are not paying their legal bills will turn calling their lawyer into a full time hobby!
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Friday Frolics – 9th September 2016My Profile

    • There is the option for self mediation but there wasn’t any damn way I was getting that option. I was done before I even started in the custody proceedings, but was too caught up in it to realize it in the moment. Although I wouldn’t have done a thing different in regards to fighting for 50/50 custody if the situation presented itself again!

  18. That is excellent advice about not contacting your lawyer to relay every tiny bit of info–I didn’t realize at first that EMAILS count as billable even if they just say, ” I found the receipt for the lighting fixture.” I learned that lesson not from my divorce, but from a real estate transaction. Too bad the old word “advocate” doesn’t seem to apply to the lawyer/client relationship anymore.
    Lee Gaitan recently posted…Bye, Bye American PieMy Profile

  19. Yes, lawyers suck the money out. My ex didn’t realize that if he didn’t show up for court but his lawyer did that he still had to pay his lawyer. At the end of the divorce, after I had to pay him a chunk from my 401K, he didn’t see any of it because his lawyer took it all in fees.
    Jennifer recently posted…Labor Day 2017My Profile

  20. Wow. I never thought about mediation being a lawyer’s dream in terms of padding the cost of a divorce. I believe you have uncovered another conspiracy Gary. You’ve done a great summation of the frustration of the divorce process.
    Shallow Reflections recently posted…You need to know about these obscure conspiraciesMy Profile

  21. Gary, Love this so much. You mix humor with practical advice and its a home run. I know there must be a big market for this writing. You should do some exploring.
    Musings, Rants & Scribbles recently posted…And The Countdown to Sixty Begins…(and I’m fine with it… really…I’m fine…gulp).My Profile

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  23. I voted for your blog! I had to after that post.

  24. Very accurate accounting of my Family Law experience. After meeting and talking with my ex-wife the first time we were in court, my attorney came back to my ‘Group W Bench” and told me, “your wife is fuc….fricking crazy”. Welcome to my world. I then told her that based on being in court for no reason, reconciliation was not possible. My attorney said I sounded harsh and could not really mean that? Nope, this became a business transaction. I only wished I had been able to read this post that day (2-25-14) because I could have saved a lot of money just on emails. Thankfully my children were both in college. But both have drank their mother’s Kool-Aid and have very little time to even reply to my text. Since I never shared my side of the story, they only know the lies (which I have heard about from friends). Hopefully they will figure it out some day…most likely when their mother is committed to another mental hospital and they get to deal with the aftermath. Having “adult” children will save dólares, it won’t guarantee a relationship.

    • I wish I had read this post two years ago before I went through it! It’s insane everything that you are charged for. I hate to hear about your children being manipulated, I’ve tried my best to stay out in front of that with my daughter who just turned nine. I must be doing something right though because she tells anyone that will listen she wants to live with me!

  25. Good post! Hopefully I will never need to use the advice you offered . Having seen more than a few friends go through divorce your post was eye-opening .

    Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel .

  26. Great post, very helpful advice!

  27. Good post, I was stupid because I wanted the transition to be easy on the kids I agreed when he manipulated me into only him having a lawyer which basically meant he had a lawyer and I got the crap end of everything lol but free is free.

  28. Um, not just yeah, HELL YEAH! The only thing that you can count on your divorce attorney is for is to bill you for lots of money and make sure you leave your divorce broken and broke!

  29. Your advice from your experiences is so valuable, Gary! I have a friend who went through an ugly divorce 7 years ago (he was in his mid-30s also, with a 6 month old son!). SHE was an attorney in training (never passed the bar to this day). I’m ashamed of these women who try to take everything and more from their exes.

  30. Lawyers will steal the french fries of a small child! I know, because one stole some of mine when I was around 4 years old! Was out in a public resturaunt (not a fast food joint) and the guy walked up and took my fries! They were good fries, too! Unfortunately, was related to the man through my father’s side of the family. Nothing good comes from my father’s side. (Not a normal family.)

    You give your little girl all the attention you can, which is a really good thing! I agree with your tampon ad! That is what I use every month. Won’t be too long before your daughter will need tham. Get Ms. Madison to help teach her the basics of the curse! You do NOT want to try explaining the bloody horrors to your little girl.

  31. Amazing writing as usual. And as funny as this was it is also terribly sad because it is so true. The merry-go-round these lawyers put us on is disgusting. Xo

  32. That joke. That punchline. I think anything that gives you such a good blog post can’t be all bad. But that divorce sounded pretty bad.

  33. That sounds awful — and expensive! The joke made me laugh, though.

  34. I’m so fortunate my divorce was without kids. Literally a 30 min mediation just to sign on the dotted lines. My husband not so fortunate….it was the divorce that nearly never ended. What great tips though, honestly, wish he had any guidance outside his crook of an attorney.

  35. As I’ve said before, something I never want to experience. Glad you came out with good humor though!

  36. The whole thing is brutal on the dad. I don’t get it. Why does mom get more benefits and benefit of the doubt…every single time! It’s so, so unfair, and thousands and thousands of good dads are simply left out to dry. I’m sorry, man. Sorry you had to go through this, and still have to. I truly hope you get her back in the couple of years you mentioned recently. It’s such bullshit. 😠

    • Pal you live close enough to me I owe you a beer just for the Kentucky jokes I’ve cracked. You completely nailed it with that comment. We can crack University of Kentucky jokes and compare notes on the Outer Banks while enjoying our drinks!

  37. I have done some work with family law, for the lawyer, and I have been a third-party victim twice — as a child and as a full-time caretaker for children other people would say are not mine. It’s ugly. It’s emotional and without a doubt, someone’s going to be unhappy in the end.
    Lots of lawyers care, though.

    Remember, in the end, everyone knows the truth and that’s effing priceless 😉

    • They do care (some of them), but and it’s a big but (like 500 lb person) butt even when they know you are right without the cabbage they will let you wither away and smile while taking what you can pay. The truth though does set you free 🙂 🙂 :), I get to live it every EFFING day and it is beyond priceless!

    • BTW, I promise #pinkyswear #HoosierLove to catch up on your site. I’ve been a busy beaver #WhatsNew!

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