In a previous blog, Financial Bedlam, I introduced you to Tim and Kathy, an average couple with ordinary problems, who got an ordinary divorce. It was just “average.” It wasn’t the best divorce or the worst, not the cheapest nor most expensive, not the longest or shortest — just average. And that “average” divorce cost them over half of their net worth. They were “average” consumers of legal services. They went blindly into a lawyer’s office, wearing their emotional divorce on their sleeve and with no financial strategy in mind.
Tim prided himself on being a good business man, but his impatience got the better of him and he hired his attorney based on the advice of a friend of a friend. Tim didn’t find out until later that the attorney had no actual business experience and he failed to provide her with incentives to resolve the divorce quickly. Tim’s attorney provided a list of the recent trials she had participated in, but didn’t give Tim any information about alternative dispute resolution. The attorney proudly walked Tim around the law firm, pointing out original works of art, beautifully decorated offices and conference rooms with “million dollar views” of the city, state of the art technology, staff lounge, and an army of legal assistants. The question Tim might have well asked is, “How much of this overhead cost do you want from me?”
Kathy was an emotional wreck when she first met with her attorney, a man reputed to be a real “junk yard dog” who could bring Tim into line. They didn’t discuss fees except in abstract terms, but the attorney assured her that Tim would be paying all of her fees, so she would not have to worry about it. Kathy’s attorney failed to address the reality of the “family pie” and how much of it he would be carving off for himself. Kathy’s attorney went through a litany of strategies that he would use to bring Tim to his knees and confidently proclaimed that he would “make Tim pay.” What Kathy might have deduced from this is that Tim would be “paying” with community assets, which were half Kathy’s!
Tim and Kathy are average legal consumers and “average” means “expensive” when you’re talking about divorce. Do you want to be Above Average? If so, keep in touch because in my next blog I’ll talk about how to be Above Average when you’re engaging professionals in a family law matter.
Choose Peace (It saves more than money.)
(P.S. I’m not opposed to high rent law offices, but I do oppose unnecessarily high legal fees.)