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Ode to Coconuts

The RI Family Court used to have a judge (now retired) who would quickly lose his temper with parties or lawyers in a divorce action who were fighting needlessly when no minor children were involved.

“You two can’t divide the coconuts?”  He would remark.

He had a point.

The cost of child-less divorce is rising dramatically throughout the nation, and there is no reason for it other than predatory lawyers inciting and profiting from the raw emotions inherent to the system.  Knock it off.  In fact, knock off all the petty in-fighting that causes the prices of divorces involving children to skyrocket too.  The lawyers are the only ones who benefit from these protracted cases: the children suffer, the judge suffers, and the parties definitely suffer.  We profit.  Count me among the attorneys asking for reform.  Enough.

How is it that everyone hates attorneys until they can use one to make their ex suffer?  Is it possible to hate an ex more than you hate an attorney?  Stop trying to screw on another over.  Stop trying to win.  You go to Family Court like you go to the DMV – only when you need to in order to get something done then get the hell out.

Spite pays the mortgage, “ladies” and “gentlemen”.  We are the first to admit it.

I had a client tell me today – I am paraphrasing, but doing so pretty accurately – that he would gladly pay me six thousand in legal fees if that gambit ended up costing his spouse a grand.

Now, it takes a good long time to get to that point.  And I don’t doubt he meant it.  He didn’t start out this way.  This process (and yes, his spouse) made him this way.  He will calm down.

You might think I should celebrate remarks – and mindsets – like this one.  Hatred pays for the Porsche.  Maybe someday it will, but I hope not.   Give me a Honda and a bit of peace of mind any day.

At least in a child-less divorce a statement like that one can be passed off as raw bitterness.  But in a divorce involving children your ex is still mom or dad.  Say you are successful.  Say Mom pays Lawyer $6k and as a result Dad loses $1k.  Know what the math is on that?  YOUR KIDS LOST $7k!  Robbing your spouse is robbing your own children.  Period.  Imagine how much you have to hate the other parent that you would rather your lawyer have money than your kids.

As I tell my clients in situations like this, there is no throne here.  There are no winners.  A divorce is a process by which two lawyers, one judge, and a pocket full of mixed prescription pills try their damn best to divide the water in the marital jug between two seething parties.  We can’t add water to the jug.  We can’t make it lemonade.  All we can do is split it equally(ish), adjust for anticipated tax consequences, and try to spill as little as possible.  That is it.  That is the whole gig.  Water in jugs passing under a bridge.

And don’t try to legitimize the legal expense by claiming you are paying $10k for a divorce attorney because it benefits the kids.  Or is in their best interest.  You spend that kind of money because you hate your spouse more than you love your kids.

Know what kids want (assuming they are safe and loved)?  They want to have two parents still.  That’s what they want.  And to be left out of your Lifetime (and lifetime) drama.

Save yourself thousands on legal fees.  You don’t have to fight over absolutely everything.  Give up a divan.  Let the bank account with $300.00 go.  Take some of that money you saved not paying your attorney to fight to the end of the earth and go on vacation with your kids.  Or kick it into a college fund.  Donate it to Bernie.  Something.  Anything is better than fighting it out in court.  Literally any use of money is better than outrageous legal fees.


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