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