How To Deal With The Spouse Who Plays Games

Your husband always provided a lavish life and a steady income. You never asked many questions about his earnings because he gave you access to the joint checking account, paid the kids’ tuition to their $30,000 a year private school, and you enjoyed at least one amazing vacation a year. He ran his own accounting firm and he did well for himself. That’s all you knew and you trusted him.

Then one day, he has “the talk” and says he “needs a break.” Everything will be civil; his lawyer will draft all the papers and “all you have to do is sign.” Several months later, you glance over at his proposed judgment and see that he’s not offering spousal support, he claims he can no longer afford tuition for the kids and he says his company only nets him $48,000 a year in income. This can’t be right…can it?

You demand a more equitable distribution, so you seek counsel of your own. On your way to the bank, you realize you were taken of the joint account a month ago.

Your dad loaned you some money and you get a lawyer of your own. You end up drafting discovery, but your ex suddenly can’t seem to find records of anything. He somehow misplaced bank records for the past year; his accountant is backed up because of tax season and will not be able to give a copy of the general ledger for another six weeks.

This all seems odd to you. Your ex took meticulous notes and kept all financial records before. You never even knew he had an accountant for the company; after all…he is an accountant. I mean, you never even asked for this divorce so surely he isn’t trying to punish you, right?

Unfortunately, “gamesmanship” is alive and well in 2015. Gamesmanship, can make a divorce take months, and in some cases, years longer than it should; gamesmanship can land a pile of 600 document requests on your doorstep; gamesmanship can lead to you having not one single corroborating financial document from your ex.

I decided long ago that I despised gamesmanship. It serves no one; well check that: it usually fails to serve clients. Lawyers can make a killing off of unnecessary motions to compel discovery (when a phone call to opposing counsel probably could have solved the issue); contempt motions (that don’t serve to get the client what he or she is actually seeking); and incessant demands for trial setting conferences (when neither side is remotely prepared for trial).

Some attorneys seem to take everything personally. They fail to recognize that cases move more smoothly when everyone cooperates. They take every disagreement as a personal affront to their intelligence. Fortunately, I am secure enough in my own skin that I don’t need to delude myself into believing that representing clients means proving how aggressive and smart I am. Aggression leads to $40,000 in legal fees for a case with $20,000 in assets. I never once heard a client brag to a friend and give me a referral because I managed to find a way to bill twice as much as a case was worth. Call me crazy, but I don’t need my Ivy League Diploma to know that such methodology is not very smart.

Therefore, if you are willing to seek outside of the box counsel from an attorney who does not hesitate to put the client’s needs ahead of his own ego; please contact us in order to discuss your family law needs.

Categories: Commentary, Divorce