An affluent business man, we will call Larry, retained my services to represent him in his divorce action. Larry is the father of three young children. When the parties’ youngest child was only three (3) months old, Larry’s wife, who we will refer to as Lolita, left him for a man she met at yoga. Larry was devastated when Lolita filed for divorce and requested sole physical custody of their children. He felt cheated in many ways but was most saddened by the prospect of not beginning and ending the day with his children on a daily basis.
After Larry shared his story with me, I told him during our very first meeting what I thought a fair settlement in his case should look like. I gave him my opinion on everything from custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support to the division of the parties’ assets and debts. Larry, although humiliated and depressed by the state of his life wanted to attempt to work out an amicable settlement with his wife, with nominal assistance of counsel. Lolita, on the other hand, wanted to grab as much of the marital pie as possible and she was therefore not interested in peacefully resolving her case with her soon to be ex-husband.
Lolita hired a bulldog to represent her in the divorce action. After hiring her bulldog, Lolita went on automatic pilot and allowed her lawyer to run the show. The case quickly became a nightmare. In an attempt to remove Larry from the house, Lolita’s attorney filed a Personal Protection Order against Larry to have him removed from the house and the kids. The allegations were quite weak but they were enough to convince a judge to hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue during which time Larry was removed from his home. Witnesses were called and the lines between friends and family were drawn. Lolita’s attorney attempted to extort money and a custody plan from Larry in exchange for dismissing the Personal Protection Order. A lot of money was spent on the Personal Protection Order action and the divorce before Lolita realized the damage she had caused her family.
The PPO eventually did get dismissed, after a lot of time, expense and heartache. The parties divorce did ultimately settle on the eve of trial. In the end, the couple spent over one hundred thousand dollars each in legal fees.
GUESS WHAT LARRY’S SETTLEMENT WAS?????
The exact settlement that I outlined for him in my office during our first meeting, before he spent a year of his life and a small fortune on his representation.
So what is the lesson here? What can you do to avoid ending up in Larry’s shoes? Here are a few tips:
*****Remember, if you and your spouse cannot agree, a virtual stranger will be making huge life altering decisions on your behalf. It is best to keep control of your own life and destiny whenever possible.