Lawyering Up!

Lawyering Up!

In my role as a Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist, I am taking much more interest in the stories that occur between couples.  Over the past several years, I have listened to stories of how couples can fight tooth and nail over seemingly minor details or things can go nuclear as this story shows.

This story, (which did not happen in the Kootenay region), started within a few years after the wedding.  To quote Rodney Dangerfield, he was born under the earth sign, and she was born under the water sign, and together they made mud!  Within a couple of years, their relationship deteriorated to the point where separation and divorce became inevitable.  The animosity that existed between them escalated to the level where communication between them was through their lawyers. 

The man was driven by money.  He was exceedingly avaricious and had gone so far as to open over 10 different bank accounts in a variety of banks, credit unions and investment houses in his name or in shell company names.  This was done to hide financial assets from his wife, who was a shareholder in the business.  To make a long story much shorter, she ultimately had to hire a forensic accountant, who with the help of her lawyer, was able to find all the hidden assets.  Ultimately, the divorce finally settled after 13 years. 

During this long-drawn-out process, it was determined that:

  1.  The man hired and fired 7 different lawyers.
  2.  They went to court 10 times.  The man lost in court each time and had to pay court costs each time.
  3. The lady, who was a shareholder in the business, was not involved in the day-to-day intricacies of the enterprise.  She took care of the home and the children while her husband went to work each day.  She trusted that he would do the right thing by providing a nice living for them and the kids.
  4. The man interacted with shady accountants and lawyers to shield his interests from his wife and children.
  5. The lady thought that the legal system would work quickly and efficiently.  She found out that she had to fend for herself at a very high cost. 
  6. Fending for herself has meant that she needed to push on the legal system to enforce support payments for herself and the children.
  7. Fending for herself also means that the restraining order on him continues to this day.
  8. While not privy to the final legal bills, the court costs alone were in-excess of $100,000.00.
  9. Each of their lawyers cost around $500/hour.

It is not hard to determine that when both lawyers and the accountants had joint meetings to see if things could be settled out of court, the cost of each meeting was approximately, $2,000/hour.

In conclusion, this divorce story is a one of the nastier fights of which have heard.  As for the lady, she was able to get on her feet very quickly.  Happily, she was able to find a job that provides for herself and the children.  Her job pays a decent income with benefits and a modest retirement package.  She gained possession of the marital home as part of the 50/50 split of assets.  Her legal and accounting bills were enormous, and fortunately, she received enough cash after the equalization process was completed, to pay her legal and accounting fees. 

The amount of money that went to pay the legal bills was staggering, over $200,000 each.  The lady will have to work well into her 60’s to build up her Canada Pension Plan benefits and her RRSP’s, but she is happy now.  Her children are all very industrious.  The combination of the modest child support payments, summer jobs and student loans mean that that they will all graduate from university with degrees that are good for getting employment.

As for the man, no one really knows where he is or what he is doing.  His engagement with his children became non-existent when he left the home just over 20 years ago.