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How to Find a Lawyer and Other Chump Survival Tips

A lawyer chump recently wrote me and asked for a column on the pitfalls of choosing a good attorney. Now in the spirit of legal discussion, let me begin with a disclaimer — I am not an attorney and nothing here is to be construed as legal advice — talk to a real lawyer! But I am curious about your experiences, good and bad.

How did you find a lawyer? Did you shop around? Did you have any interview questions? Did you ever change lawyers? Got any advice for the newbies?

As someone who’s had the misfortune to spend a decade in family court, here’s my advice:

1.) Document, document, DOCUMENT. The law is based on evidence. You can’t have enough. Collect all your financials. Do spreadsheets of how much time you spend with your kids, things you take for granted and wouldn’t think twice about — time stamp that shit and write it down. Go crazy with binders. DOCUMENT! Your lawyer will thank you. The judge will be impressed with your cool analytic ability to build your case. DOCUMENT!

2.) Your lawyer is not your therapist. These people bill in 6 minute increments. Save it for your support group. Some emotional sloppiness is to be expected — this shit sucks — but try to keep it business-like and focused. You want this person to represent you, not wipe up your snotty grief.

3.) Manage your expectations. You want an advocate, someone who will champion your cause, but you also want a straight shooter. Trust no lawyer who guarantees results or says “slam dunk.” Lawyers will assess your odds, and they’ll probably tell you things you don’t want to hear. You are PAYING FOR THEIR ADVICE. Listen to it.

4.) He with the coolest head wins. That’s a little saying my trial lawyer husband says about court. The other side will try to paint you batshit crazy, provoke you, say terrible things. Do NOT take the bait. In trying to defend yourself, do not become the thing they are accusing you of. I know it’s crazy making. I know it’s counter-intuitive to react to insults and untruths with unflappability, but it’s a crucial survival skill in court. LEARN IT. Don’t be overly emotional, be determined.

Finally, some resources (for the U.S. anyway — if you’ve got some for other countries please post.)

One stop shopping for divorce, custody laws and everything domestic violence-related — check out

To shop for a lawyer near you, who comes recommended from other lawyers — check out

(Neither of these groups pay me to promote them. Just passing this along.)

Now then, CN, help the newbies LAWYER UP!


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Ask divorce lawyers who they would least want to face as opposing counsel. If one name consistently pops up – go talk with that lawyer and beg and/or borrow money to hire that attorney.

    Bonus! Every lawyer you consult becomes one fewer that Fuckwit can potentially hire.

    Lawyers love documents. They are also thrilled to have a client with a journal with sewn-in pages documenting the effect of Fuckwit and the fucking-around channel on the family unit. All those nights where dinner was prepared by Chump (and the kids – if you have them) but Fuckwit didn’t show? All the vacations where Fuckwit was elsewhere, or sexting? How about those “mystery” charges on the credit card – all lawyer fodder. Get tested for STDs. While it sucks to find out you got one, it’s potentially plutonium in a divorce settlement.

    Accountants are also documentation junkies.

    Do you use social media? Don’t. Only the most banal of topics will be seen on your pages. Even here you should be super-duper careful not to reveal any detail that may identify you. Pseudonyms are your friends.

    Don’t CHAT with your lawyer. Inform. Shut up. Listen to what they have to say regarding legal strategy, how to manage your temper/sanity and if they say to find a therapist for yourself – do it. Ditto if they mention “co-parenting classes” as being an important thing that the judge is likely to want you two to do. Don’t inform Fuckwit – sign yourself up. Get AHEAD of Fuckwit. Let them distract themselves with fuck buddies by the thousands while you prepare to look at tax implications now and thirty years from now.

    If your Fuckwit is inclined to guilt (at first), great. Get the most generous settlement known to mankind. Don’t forget to saddle Fuckwit with the education bill for college or trade school too! Factor in inflation when calculating child support and be generous. Activities cost more as they go through school.

    Stealing money from you, abusing your trust, risking your health through sloppy sex with others, all of that is abuse. Consult a DV group as well.

    No matter what happens while divorcing, make it very clear that treating you as an idiot and afterthought was one of the dumbest moves EVER. They say they love you, but they do not RESPECT you. Change that. Make them hate you and respect you from this day forth.

    Also, go scrub a toilet with their favorite t-shirt. It will make you feel a lot better.

    • On social media – i purposely used it. Documented the stable, sane and loving mother and working professional I was and my family/village is – in a subtle way via photos. (E.g There she is volunteering for the school board health clinic.) It directly refuted his lawyer’s accusations.

      Social media can also work for you. Just my two sense.

      • Whatever works!

        I keep my FB profile locked down tight & never posted photos of my kids when they were minors.

        Glad you were able to use it strategically for the benefit of yourself & the kids.

        • Totally Agree with the minor bit.

          Caution is healthy. Posting good stuff for the community openly – library book drives, health fairs, (sans minors) benefits all involved and shows who you are, where you spend your free time and what you value through actions.

          To that end, Don’t post anything too close to your heart. Ever. Even in ‘lock down’ mode.

    • THIS! So true, they didn’t respect you in the marriage (mostly because as Chumps, we didn’t know what we didn’t know because we aren’t disordered humans..) but now we are AWAKE and all their games no longer work. We aren’t afterthoughts anymore, take every dime your attorney says you can get, this way you heal better on the other end because you stood up for yourself. Get a gladiator if you’ve got the narcissistic broken ex, it’s only thing that will work, there is no reasoning with them, in or out of court. You need a JUDGE, and hopefully a smart, psychologically-educated one. Can’t stress this enuf…I have a lot of friends who burned through so much money trying to mediate, don’t do it! This is your life, fight for it, with every bit of strength you have, you will gain more everyday you are away from the fuckwit. Mine couldn’t even get it up, so she can have that challenge, I am not a snake charmer!

    • “Ask divorce lawyers who they would least want to face as opposing counsel. If one name consistently pops up – go talk with that lawyer and beg and/or borrow money to hire that attorney.”

      As a later myself…. I disagree. Often those who are last wanted on the other side are the ones that run bills high doing nasty things without clear purpose. Expensive for everyone.

      My suggestion is to get referrals from people you trust, to any lawyers they trust. Then ask those lawyers for referrals to family lawyers. Or have your referral source ask them.

      Word of mouth is the best way.

      • I know what you mean. I asked around my friends and such for a local “shark” and searched for lawyers in my area on the state’s bar association website.
        I checked attorney’s websites for free consults, family law specialties, checked with my union to see if any attorneys offered discounts, looked into using a paralegal doing my paperwork for a lower fee – I figured I could at least file divorce papers and get the party started.

  • My working relationship with lawyer ticked all four of CL’s points (plus was listed as a SuperLawyer) so I was extremely satisfied with his performance.

    But I’ll add one more — in the end, no matter how well the performance on your behalf, (s)he is a professional who likely is working to exceed billable hour quotas, and your case is no exception.

    You need to be your own best advocate, including when dealing with your attorney. If you’re near the end of your process and (s)he says a better result is possible if a new or different tack is taken (with more billable hours), know your own financial and emotional situation well enough to make a level headed decision about it.

    • I didn’t see who wrote this post, but when I got to the last sentence I said–UX. Great advice.

  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, check out your local courthouse which has resources to help you navigate your case. The lawyers available as resources there do charge a small fee, will not represent you, (as they cannot legally do so), but they do advise. – they can tell you what forms to fill out to file or how to respond and can lead you to other options most of us, non lawyer chumps, aren’t aware of.

  • I went with a law firm who advertises itself as a Men’s Lawyer for divorce. Yah. I figured they would know all his tricks. And they did.

  • The secret chauvinist I divorced left me for a “real woman” willing to pick up after him and coddle him just as my career took off. I wasn’t willing to be the only present parent, primary income, and 60’s housewife all in one to a drunk playboy.

    Knowing this wasn’t the time to rant on feminism and the capacity of women in the work force I used his prejudices against him. I found the best divorce attorney in town who also happened to be an imposing male presence in the court room. Suddenly the boy pretender wasn’t as interested in strutting around like a barnyard rooster and bullying me into submission. I got the primary custody I wanted and he kept the credit cards he had used to fuel his not so hidden alcohol addiction.

    And now I can teach our son about equality every night of the week in my own peaceful home.

    • Wait wait wait. You were primary income and he tried to act high and mighty? Woooooow.

      • The fact that I had a bigger paycheck and balanced the check book (a chore he insisted I take over during our long engagement) made him feel emasculated he claimed during false reconciliation.

        Never mind he wasn’t even averaging 40 hours a week at his current job and went fishing 3 days a week while I stayed home with the kids. All work and no play makes mom a dull lay!!

        • “All work and no play makes mom a dull lay!!”
          Made me spit my coffee! Thank you for starting my day with laughter.

        • @uncivilengineer – yep all work and no play for sure makes – sorry that’s made – us exhausted!

          • The X used to be proud of a saying he thought he made up (right).

            All work and no play..

            MAKES JACK!

            yeah, he was a real kick in the pants.

        • UnCivilEngineer mine was the same way. Stopped working 40 hour weeks and cried to the judge saying I was controlling with the money because he didnt’ pay any of the bills. Apparently, he wanted to handle paying bills but funny he never once mentioned anything until we were in court. Also cried to the judge that he needed spousal support and child support.. Dummy wasn’t even paying anything for our 4 year old as it all already came out of my checks. What he needed child support for was beyond me.
          Chump me settled letting him off of child support and only having to pay 34% of daycare and healthcare and now he’s having all sorts of fun camping, activities etc when he claimed he had no money to live and on top of that refusing to take my name of the truck and driving it around with expired tabs why you ask because he doesn’t want to go to DMV because he is supposed to have Whiskey plates.
          Talk about being a Chump when will I ever learn. I need to stop feeling bad for him when clearly there is nothing to feel bad for. I wish now I would have never settled but then again after 7 times in court the Judge still didn’t give him any consequenses to his actions or lack there of actions.

  • I would add, a good lawyer will help you prepare mentally to accept what is the best you are going to get and not encourage you to fight for Justice. I could have “won” more but I would have never collected it. It wasn’t worth the fight.

  • My best friend works at the courthouse. She went and talked to the clerk and asked who she would hire if she needed a divorce attorney: someone that was thorough AND respected by the judges. I got 3 names and chose from there. I’ll never forget when I hired him and told him I was hopeful we might work things out. He replied,”He’s still having the affair, correct?…. listen to what you just told me, you might want to rethink that.” Months later he told me that he normally keeps his opinions to himself but “your husband is crazy”. …… before ex hired his own attorney, he corresponded with mine. He was adversial and rude to my attorney. Settlement went fantastic!!

    If you don’t have someone that works in the courthouse, spend a day watching. You not only will educate yourself about the process, you might find your attorney.

    Not only document, but keep it somewhere your spouse does not have access to it. I would come home and Douchebag McGee would be at the house because he was “borrowing the vacuum, doing laundry” or some other trivial bullshit. UBT: I’m going through your stuff and setting up a video camera to spy on you (no joke).

    Eventually my attorney sent him the trespassing statute as Douchebag said as long as he was part owner of the house, he could come over whenever he wanted. That shut that shit down.

    Back up text messages, print emails…. it sucked getting it all together last minute. Plus if you have Verizon, you can print off text details for the last 90 days…. helpful for me, helpful for evidence with Douchebag and homeslice.

    I kept journals about everything (although his attorney tried to subpoena these as evidence of my instability…. yeah I was unstable, I found out my husband was a liar and a cheat).

    Journaling/documenting not only helped me remember timelines, but also helped me stay focused when he would lovebomb and make me think I was being “too mean”.

    In the end I faired well…. although it was super expensive. But I just subtracted it from the proceeds from the house which I received 100% of.

    • How did you access text messages thru Verizon? I’m the mom of new Chump and she’s pretty tech savvy but doesn’t think she can obtain current/up-to-date texts or call records.

  • My Xhole actually thought I would use his lawyer for the divorce. He filed and told me how easy it would be to use his lawyer and all I had to do was to go down to his office and sign some papers and it would be over.

    Um… no. I wasn’t that stupid. A family member researched lawyers in my area and gave me some names to call and see if I liked any of them. I hired the 2nd one I spoke with.

    Xhole had the divorce papers worded like he left me priceless artwork and possessions. I had my lawyer change that. When he said he couldn’t word it as dog chewed artwork and broken possessions, I had him just strike the whole artwork thing and word it as we had already amicably divided our possessions.

    I wanted the divorce papers to say abandonment and adultery but my lawyer advised that judges and attorneys don’t care ~ they hear it every day. He advised to accept the ‘unsupportability’ clause which means irreconcilable differences and go on down the road. He said it would be cheaper in the long run. He was right. The cost of my divorce was half of what Xhole paid to his attorney.

    • Jodi!
      My stbx did the same thing!
      Hired a high profile D attorney and I “pretended” to go along.
      Met with them, just sat and listened, took notes and got my son. (The ONLY thing I cared about walking away with) because jerkaziod control freak thought I would just respond to his demands.
      Ha! Dumbass I’m not you wife appliance anymore, don’t have to do as you command, don’t have to STFU, don’t care if you are “mad”.
      whatev’s….if son doesn’t want to go see you, he doesn’t have to! Ever! (Of course he is asking for that to be modified 2+ years later…..our D is still ongoing, ugh)
      When I finally did retain my awesome attorney he flipped his lid, sent me an email that read EXACTLY like the “Rage Channel”.

      Worst thing is the cost of freedom. We HAVE to lawyer-up or we’ll get run over by these bullies and their nasty lawyers.

      • My X went further! He said, “We’re good. We don’t need lawyers. Let’s just sit down at the kitchen table and divide everything up.”

        Lol. I lawyered up so fast. Then his charm turned to rage 🙁

        • I got that too, couldn’t impress on me enough how important it was not to involve solicitors…..yea right. I’ve already paid for my solicitor up to or over the amount I’m likely to need, just on his under calculation of one of his assets. Not quite all turning out as per his master plan. Tell everyone we’ve “grown apart” then agree on assetts and have an on line divorce. I wasn’t born yesterday!

      • BlueChumparoo – Their nasty lawyers – no kidding. At court the first time his lawyer struts over to mine and then she looks at me like I’m some kind of trash. Looked me up and down with disgust. I almost started laughing because it was so funny. It’s like, lady – you are the one representing a disgusting excuse for a human. She should be looking at her client with disgust for what he did to his family. If she only knew his past and what he’s capable of. But I get it – it’s all part of the posturing and stupid tactics. My coworker is taking the bar again. When I told him it seems like lawyers put on the dramatics he told me that they take acting lessons sometimes!

    • I live in a state where adultry & abuse can be listed as the cause of divorce.
      If I had done as my lawyer suggested and not insisted on telling the truth & making sure adultry was documented as the cause, I would not be receiving any alimony after 30+ years of marriage to a man who squandered our life savings behind my back!

    • Mine thought we could use our joint business lawyer. This was after he told me “the first million is mine.” Hmm, no thanks. I think I will pass. I think I will find someone who hasn’t worked for three generations of your family, and excluded me from all the legal protections I should have received over three decades, in the interests of protecting your FOO. Then, once I got a separation agreement drafted, and he had bought property (ha, I could have gone for half of that, too much of a chump though) he refused to sign said agreement. I have no idea why, he was galloping off into the sunset with Schmoopie – and my lawyer refused to let my property agreement go unconditional until I had that agreement watertight. Fucktard. I think he thought he was just above the law… sounds about right, obviously above social conventions like monogamy!

  • Watch out for lawyers who minimize cheating or say things like: there are two sides to every story.

    You don’t need the added stress of trying to convert your lawyer to the abuse of cheating. Some lawyers just don’t get it. Move on.

    As champ lady says above, no lawyer can promise any results. I would also be careful of any lawyer who tries to put too much of the work on you. You do have to gather the evidence. But don’t allow them to force you to analyze or catalog it.. If they do -then you should not be charged any paralegal or legal assistant fees if you’re doing that work.

    Never hire any lawyer that talks badly another client or a past client. They will do the same thing to you. Even if they don’t use names it is a horrible breach of ethics and shows they do not truly care about their clients. It shows they have no discretion and they will be revealing the message details of your life to their inner circle.

    Choosing a divorce lawyer is like a surgeon. You just can’t go cheap. Not if the assets and children at stake. Things move quickly quickly! -when you get into court. You will not understand what is happening. You need a seasoned pro who can respond correctly and aggressively- I have never met a jet you did not staying at someone not following the rules of procedure.

    Your lawyer may be a young go getter and have every good intention in the world. But if they don’t know the proper procedure to file something, they usually get one chance with the judge. After that, your credibility just goes.

    Lastly, do not hire a solo practitioner who is new to the area. They do not have the connections that you need to win. They do not have the knowledge pool that you need to win. Law is about bouncing ideas off each other. LAw is also about who you know.

    • I was deep into our divorce proceedings when one afternoon while going through the paperwork at his office, my attorney jokingly retorted to one of my then-husband’s stall tactic/tantrum rants, “Well, you married him.”

      As a woman raised by a chauvinist father and enabling mother, I don’t know where it came from. But I stopped him dead in his chuckle and said if he ever thinks what I’m going through will EVER be funny to me EVER, I need to fire him.

      He apologized immediately and profusely, and promised me he would go after him with all he had. Then he did.

      It’s amazing what we find we have within us when we decide we’re done being treated like shit. I found strength from that encounter with my attorney, and continue to this day to speak up for myself.

    • MM – YES YES YES! what a most AWESOME FUCKING RESPONSE! My lawyer played hockey with the presiding judge. In my neck of the woods – most, if not all, of the judges and lawyers go to the downtown YMCA. A little ‘ol place I use to work at (20 years ago). Insider information never hurt anyone! It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Around here anyway.

  • DOCUMENTATION RULES – can’t stress this enough. And no, a divorce attorney is not your therapist or friend, an attorney is a professional and billable hours pay the attorney’s bills.
    Make sure you have all documentation that you can get your hands on, before you consult an attorney.
    Google and read up on all divorce laws in your state.
    And – this may be contrary to what is advised on CL – be patient, don’t run to the attorney, sometimes it pays off to remain patient until YOU have your ducks in a row, instead of rushing.
    Last not least, when you are ready to file -in your own sweet time-, leave all emotions aside and treat it like a business.
    I consulted an attorney whom I had researched and who was recommended by attorney friends – the other two they recommended I did not think would be suitable. I paid for the consultation. The attorney was not right for me, too eager to file immediately. By the end of this year, I will finally have everything in place and will finally be able to file. Decide for yourself what you need the outcome to be, leave emotions aside as much as possible. I pretend in my mind that I am doing this for a friend and not myself, I am after all a chump, and it is quite a challenge to put myself first.

    • Is there a way to recover deleted history on the computer? If so, could somebody walk me through the steps?

  • I was lucky, I was referred by a friend who had just completed her divorce and was pleased. I visited my lawyer one year to the day before I finally filed. She was in a great area of town. Here’s my brief suggestions:

    1. Assume that your STBX is looking at your phone, computer search history etc. Buy a burner phone, and find a great hiding place for it. Do all your legal searches at the public library or on a trusted friend’s computer. They will ask in discovery for this info. I had a close friend discover that her STBX had cloned her phone.

    2. Get off of social media.

    3. Get off of common emails and call Apple, Samsung etc to make sure that your computer is not being key logged (Mine was and my STBX had access to all my legal correspondence)

    4. Find a great lawyer. My lawyer had a background as a federal prosecutor for financial crime. She is married to a psychiatrist. She got it and she didn’t mess around. Her first question to me was “where is the money”. When I told her I didn’t know, and that my husband’s phone was locked down she said “you are smarter than that”.

    5. Document. Get copies of all tax returns, bank statements etc. Catalog them. Start a calendar that notes every “touch” your STBX has with the kids including ‘broken promises’ It is documentation that writes settlement and custody agreements.

    6. Write your own custody agreement based on facts and know that often sharing 50/50 is the goal. Have compelling documentation if that will not be the agreement. I have a 60/40 during school year and 50/50 during summer. In the end, after a year, your x will revert to old behaviors.

    7. Hire a team, CPA, Forensic Accountant, Mediator (if needed and/or required), Investment Advisor. My forensic accountant cost more than my lawyer and was worth every penny. My CPA worked to set my settlement up to minimize my tax liabilities. I have immunity from the IRS if they ever come knocking on my ex’s door.

    8. Hire an arbitrator if your ex is going to ‘steal’ from the family home. When you divide assists be strategic: know what you want the outcome to be, overshoot it and begin to ‘horse trade’. I traded interest in one of his businesses for my marital home. In the end, the arbitrator stood in my house for 7 hours while my ex packed. As my ex left, the arbitrator turned to me and said “too bad he is such an asshole”.

    9. Go to counseling. Find a counselor who will be straight with you. Get your kids in counseling.

    10. Keep your emotions out of it. Go no contact, grey rock etc.

    Good luck

    Read CL and the forums. If you have a question, pose it. Chances are, one of us has lived through it, both good and bad. CN weighed in as I packed my ex stuff in tears, that afternoon, CN had my back and propelled me through.

  • My lawyer was a bit of a jaded smart ass but he practiced with a cool head. Very important!!!!
    Also, you know better than anyone what makes your x tick. Use it!!! And pass that info on to your lawyer. He can use it as he sees fit.
    Concede to your idiot bastard x on some things he wants. It will be worth it in the end.
    Remember its all about *winning* to these human bags of barf.(sorry sometimes i get carried away????)

    • I agree. Knowing how your STBX thinks can really help. My X was someone with lots of bluster, but was unwilling to incur a big legal fee. So with every threat, I did not play the game. I instructed my lawyer to just wait and in a few months, X agreed to what I wanted ( which was more than fair to him). Lawyer was amazed that I had read him so well. After 33 years, I was more on top of things than even I expected. Kept my legal fees way down this way too.

  • We met at a mediator’s office for that “free council” the day after D-day. That was a long hour.

    In the end we went the Collaborative Divorce route, mostly b/c my state in “no-fault” and CD is faster/cheaper.

    I still had a lawyer and she still billed, but my state really limits choices I had. I would also say, it helped me focus on the kids.

    I only offer this up b/c this forced me to get through that emotional detachment on my own and thus it happened quicker than I thought..

  • If your are still lining your ducks.
    ✔️Make copies of taxes.
    ✔️Last 3 months statements
    ✔️Paychecks stmnts
    ✔️Retirement accounts
    ✔️Credits cards statements
    ✔️If you are in FL life insurance @ EX work can stay just in your name.
    ✔️Make a “wish list” of everysingle details. Help your lawyer with inputs of daily life situation if you have kids. Example, Ex needs to pay my kid cellphone, insurance, thanks to a chump here I was told to write no meeting affair partner after a year of divorce. The college funds.How do you want to communicate. Phone call just if there is an emergency etc.

    If you think finance would be an issue talk to your lawyer if his retirement account can be taken out & use it to pay credit card
    s etc. I did it since he was using my credit to play single.

  • I think I would have done better representing myself tbh, living in a no fault state that leans toward 50/50 custody as the default. My lawyer was a piece of shit, got scolded by the judge right in front of everyone for not putting case law in the brief.

    Just glad it’s over. I have full custody in reality but 50/50 where support is concerned. A financial loss but we’re free. And that was the goal.

    I think lingering in the judicial system for whatever reason just delays healing. Can’t say I’d recommend using it for revenge or to even the score. And paying a lawyer enough to get an underground pool? Ugh (sorry Tracy) but seriously no wouldn’t the pool be better than another year of snake wrangling

  • One mistake I made (because I was unaware of it)…if you do a “buy out” of the house from the X, be sure to deduct the value from that buy out of the loss of Capital Gains Tax that you may be charged come the day you decide to sell…ditto for Real Estate Sales fees. You are now “single” as far as the Govt is concerned…so that means you no longer can deduct the combined couples amount of $500K from your “base cost” of the home investment EVEN THOUGH you paid the X. It is quite unfair…you buy the house once with the X and get to deduct a base cost of $500K if you sell together…but then you divorce and buy him out meaning you have to pay for half of it again, and yet, you do not get that huge buy out payment factored in when it comes to Capital Gains Tax.

    Lawyers neglect to tell you that.

  • Great advice although one other bit of advice that saved me a lot is that if your spouse in in twu luv and wants the divorce done and might be reasonable, have a paralegal rather than your lawyers be your referee when banging out a settlement. You then consult the lawyers on points of law and have them review your proposed settlement.

    The lawyers hated this because it cut their billable hours way down but luckily for me my Ex was in twu luv and had seen the lawyers take every penny from her parents contentious divorce. She was a sahm at the time so I was paying for both lawyers so this ended up working for me regarding the main settlement. Of course the savings were blown when she fought me for custody.

    The other advice is the divorce is a business deal and take emotion out of it. Is it worth paying $175/hour for your lawyer to fight over $100 tv or is it better to not fight and buy a new one ?

  • I won’t reiterate all the great comments re: finding a lawyer… because it sounds like CN is MIGHTY in that regard 🙂

    But, I will offer this observation with regard to documentation and getting your fuckwit in the frame of mind to negotiate and settle (which saves you money in the long run).

    Mr. Sparkles had MANY email aliases and personal ads on a variety of sites. One, in particular, was Adult Friend Finder. As part of substantiation (documentation) for my case, I had my attorney SUBPOENA HIS ACCOUNT ACTIVITY FROM AFF… Mr. Sparkles chin hit the floor. It sent a very very clear message that I was NOT fucking around… and I would do (and bring to the public light) anything and everything.

    SO – ask yourself… what is the biggest secret that your fuckwit his hiding? Can you document it (or can it be documented)? Then tell your lawyer.

    Remember – this person isn’t your friend (even if you have to co-parent which I do). They threw down the gauntlet of war when they fucked round… fight as if your life (and your kids future) depends on it… because IT DOES.

    • Seriously though if you had a life before you will have a life after, so wouldn’t it be better to save those resources toward building your after life than making sure you get every brick possible from the old one?

      I guess I don’t like the thought of my life depending on the abuser in any way

    • There is so much crap my attorney could subpoena but seems totally uninterested in “bad character” as an offense strategy. I was under the impression the courts don’t really give a crap about your moral compass.

      • It depends upon where you live. In Florida, it’s a no-fault state. There’s no relevance to how badly you were treated when it comes to dividing up the assets. Custody, timesharing as it’s referred to here, is based upon the best interests of the children. So unless your fuckwit’s behavior on backpage is somehow negatively (and directly) affecting the children, It’s not going to matter. When I say affecting them, I don’t mean in the general sense of the ex being an asshole (which obviously affects everyone)…I mean more like taking them on his clandestine dates and leaving them in the car, or whatever. You get the point. If your attorney is not interested in his moral character it’s because, more than likely, there’s no legal value to it during the divorce.

        However, if it were an at fault state, that could potentially be different. Or, if your attorney thinks there is an embarrassment factor for your husband, and has a legal basis to subpoena the records, then that could be useful in negotiations. In Florida, I can’t think of many situations in which those records would be relevant in court.

      • I guess it’s not so much trying to prove that kind of thing to a judge, it’s just the fact that it might be dragged to light during the process that may make the cheater more willing to come to the party in a more docile manner. It’s kind of blackmail, but hey, it’s also the truth.

  • If you are in a no fault state – don’t even bother with trying to prove they cheated! It’s a waste of $$ & no one in the court system gives a shit ( except of course you)

      • I agree about the no-fault states, but some states are “equitable distribution” states and may consider marital misconduct as a factor, usually among other factors such as disparity of income and health issues, when deciding how the assets should be distributed equitably. It may be possible to use these factors to persuade a court that “equitably” is not necessarily 50-50. The attorney would know the likelihood of success in your state.

  • Well – I had a pretty crappy lawyer.

    My first lawyer was fabulous. Young, smart and keen but sadly her practice shut down just as my case was starting up. So I asked a lawyer acquaintance for a recommendation – they all know each other and picked the top one of his list. The head of the local bar association.

    A couple of key things here that I learned on top of other things.
    – Generally lawyers don’t want to go to court. It’s a lot of extra work and yes they will bill you for a lot of it but it’s a nuisance for them.
    – Especially in a no-fault jurisdiction, you’re just another number in the line at the DMV. My process was very much spending a lot of money to have them fill out forms that I had already found online and filled out. I then had to fix their mistakes.
    – There were a lot of mistakes on the forms – even the ones they transcribed.
    – I got the strong feeling that being a man and the higher income earner that my female lawyer had a hard time believing that I was the victim. I recall her going through my bank statements looking for alcohol and restaurant spends and being surprised that they were modest.
    – One of the key things that annoyed me about my lawyer was them not acknowledging or responding to my correspondence.
    – At one point I ended up making it very clear to my lawyer that I was unhappy and didn’t feel that she was taking my case seriously. That got me a few hours of very competent counsel before my (rather boring) case went back to being ignored.
    – During the settlement negotiations my lawyer started advising the other side on their rights to property and such. I stopped her and asked semi-jokingly if she was representing me or my STBX

    My ex hired a “bull-dog” type lawyer. My lawyer and her were friends (small town – can’t be helped) and I was left on my own during the collaborative meetings to address the questions while my ex sat pretending to be a quiet scared mouse in the corner (until she blew up that she wasn’t getting the respect she deserved in a giant rant).

    Things did work out though. My lawyer was indeed quite smart and experienced and worked hard on setting my expectations low. While I do regret hiring her, I could have done far worse.

    It’s perhaps dirty pool but I did work as subtly as I could on sabotaging the relationship on the other side. I made a passing comment that my ex was on her 4th lawyer by the time we got to the collaborative sessions. She shot back that I was on my second – but since they all know each other they knew the circumstances. My ex during the first meeting freaked out when I made a comment about her affair and left the room while my lawyer gave me a tongue lashing. While out of the room it turns out that she explained to her lawyer that there was no affair and that she’d only started seeing her guy after she left. This was relayed to me (again I was being seen as the bad guy – it’s the bow tie I’m sure) and I laughed and offered to show them my evidence. Lawyer hate being lied to.

    I was told later that my lawyer was of the opinion that the other side wasn’t trying nearly as hard or being as nasty as they could have.

    During the last meeting, the lawyers were happily filling out forms and passing them around to be signed and I realized that they were wanting me to agree to parts of the settlement based on their forms. I put a stop to that, didn’t sign anything and then made my pitch for negotiating the settlement. Again, my lawyer was only minimally helpful.

    Being as I’m a Chump, I’ve learned that my picker in all sorts of things doesn’t work well including picking a lawyer. I was under a time-line, trusted the recommendation of a friend and essentially took the first one that was on his list that was willing to take the case and called me back.

    For a simple case with no court time, only 3 face to face meetings with my ex (for which she was not prepared at all) it still ended up costing me about $8k in legal bills.

    I did end up getting screwed since I am the higher income earner but not as badly as I would have if I had just allowed the form filling out processes to happen.

    My original hope had been to get everything done in 1 meeting but my ex was not prepared at all, didn’t contribute to any of the discussions and again – it was all about filling out the forms. Add on to that delays because of vacations and such it took about 6 months to get through it all to agreement.

    Would another lawyer have served me better? I don’t know. All in all it was more like an expensive trip to the DMV than a legal battle. Since it was a simple case I expect that pretty much any lawyer would have treated it like I ended up being treated.

    At least it’s over now.


    • There is something to be said about being the higher earner. In fact if he wasn’t so entitled and hired a lawyer instead of representing himself the asshole might have been awarded alimoney as well as health insurance and half my pension.

      It didn’t fit into the narrative he told Nanthony, that he supported me. Those lies come to bite them in the end sometimes. He wanted nothing from the home and then enlisted adult children in an attempt to save money.

      When he went from apartment to renting a house I’m sure he had to spend thousands. He called the Limited for a reason. Dumb fuck.

  • Please do not attempt to Mediate with a Sociopath. Eight hours of back and forth with a mediator judge and our attorneys, and I almost had a nervous breakdown. Incapable of telling the truth, EVERYTHING that came out of his mouth was another lie. Although he caused all of this,he was the one who filed for divorce, he just would not cooperate. Perjury, false financial statements, forged car titles and on and on. I stood up and walked out basically saying “My past may be based on his lies, but I will not allow my future to be also”. What an absolutely horrific experience and total waste of money.

    • You are right except if the cheater is in “twu luv” and Schmoopie has the heat on and they desperately want the divorce completed ASAP.
      In that case they may be reasonable for a short period and you can quickly agree to a settlement.
      After that period or if Schmoopie dumped them, then as you described there is no negotiating with them.

    • My ex was so mad that I wanted spousal support that my punishment (and our child’s punishment) was that he was going to make the judge sell the house!! It didn’t matter that our daughter wanted to stay in the house with our 2 big dogs. He was going to make me pay for not obeying him and accepting little to no spousal support. He said he couldn’t wait for me to explain to our child why the moving van was at our house. He told our daughter it was my fault she was going to lose her home and her dogs.

      Like my lawyer said: He wants to throw you away as cheaply as possible.

      Well, yes. Yes, he does. Throw his daughter under bus to do it? Yep.

      To go rent a place with 2 big dogs was over $1,000 more a month than our mortgage. And I only found one place that would take 2 big dogs. Then we wanted me to pay Watt’s charges – the difference we would have made if we rented the house out.

      He was threatening and bullying me constantly. And he’s the one who was lying, cheating, betraying and abandoning his family. And then we wanted us out on the street on top of that.

      No, you cannot reason or negotiate with the disordered. It’s all about do what they want or you will pay because now it’s time for spite and revenge like you’ve never seen. I bought him out, but now what’s this about Capital Gains Tax???? Oh boy

      • oops. And then HE wanted us out, and HE wanted me to pay Watt’s charges, not we.

      • Well, Capital Gains comes into play when you as a now single home owner, decide to sell the house…and if that profit amounts to over $250K for a single owner…or $500K for a couple. So if you bought out your husband, you do NOT get HIS “cost basis” credit for the total amount that you both paid for the house…only “your half” since you are no longer married. The cost basis is what you both paid for the house, plus any money that you both sunk into the property that has receipts to prove it. This amount is deducted from the potential profit and the cost basis is adjusted to figure out Capital Gains Tax.

        What happens during a buy out is that the X walks away with half the present market value equity TAX FREE…while you get stuck only getting cost basis credit for HALF the value of the original purchase price…AND, no, you do NOT get to tack on to your half of the cost basis the amount that you had to pay to the X when you bought him out…even though that means you paid for the house yet again by paying out your X to get it.

        So, you end up with a house that can easily accrue Capital Gains Tax if you keep it while it continues to appreciate and if it nets over $250K profit, but YOU still only get to deduct the original HALF, because you are suddenly now a single person and that’s what you are entitled to.

        X and I paid $177K…then dumped another $150K into it before we split up. This is $327K total between both of us. That means because I am now single, I get only half that value= $163,000 towards MY cost basis. BUT, I also had to pay X $200K to buy him out and I do NOT get to add HIS pay off to MY cost basis. This means that while my house is now worth $500K since we split…I owe Capital Gains if I sell it now because I do not get to transfer HIS cost basis amount to mine even though I had to spend that money to buy it from him. So I get taxed on a profit of $86,500 if I sell it now for what it is now worth (because the first $250K is not taxed on Capital Gains…just the amount of net profit over that).

        This means that I’d have to spend another $86,000…money that I don’t have on the house to keep up with the appreciation in a race to break even to avoid Capital Gains Tax.

        I think it is quite unfair because I had to pay the X $200K and did not get HIS cost basis credited back to me when I did so…he walks away with the entire $200K of his equity buy out tax free!

        • Thank you. Wow. Just another unfair result we have to deal with.

  • I’m a UK chump, and, unless it has changed recently, the Courts here like you to show that you have attempted mediation before you can begin a court process. If I remember correctly there is a certificate they give you to prove you have attended a session of Mediation, even if it is just one of you.

    The Idiot had run home to Mummy after D Day, and early on Mummy was more of an influence than Schmoopie. So, I was able to mediate with him as Mummy told him to!

    But don’t ever think that Mediation is either easy or the end of your negotiations. Mediation is dealing with your ex with a stranger alone. It is raw and it is hard. It is not the easy option when your Idiot is an entitled narcissist. I had been recommended a solicitor in addition to this, and she gave me the fantastic advice of ‘Get what you need while he feels guilty’ – in other words move quick. She also went over the Mediation agreement which in turn was made into a legally binding Court Order.

    And here’s another recommendation. – listen to your head and not your heart. My heart was still bleating on that The Idiot was the one for me and how we had been together for most of our lives. My head knew that years of disrespect needed to be ended swiftly and to throw him into the arms of Schmoopie as they were just so perfect for one another. My head won that battle.

    So what I said about don’t think Mediation is the end …yeah sadly The Idiot is so entitled he doesn’t think some of the legal tricky stuff on a poopy piece of paper applies to him as Mummy and Schmoopie make him feel so special.

    My solicitor has reminded him, by way of a threatened court appearance, that he is not quite so special after all.

    • Shame our courts don’t hand out ‘Complete fucking Dickhead/Dickess’ certificates!!

    • Not so much these days. I’m from Scotland and getting a divorce is as easy as going to a cash machine and lifting a couple of hundred pounds. You don’t even need to go to court. Just don’t contest it (if they file) and a year later you’re done.

      Kinda sad.

    • My lawyer said exactly the same thing about creating a property settlement agreement while Cheater’s guilt was still fresh, as he was more likely to cooperate then. Thus, I had a mediated PSA/post-nup in hand 7 months after DDay, even though chumpy me stuck around trying to reconcile for another 2 years. When I finally had had enough, all I had to do was take that document back to my lawyer and say, “I’m ready.” We filed the next day.

  • Great Advise all around! Thank you!

    My STBX and I are supposedly doing mediation with Lawyers on both sides in a few months. Should I have documentation for that even though we are not going to litigation?

    I wold have to go back and document 20+ years of affairs and emotional abuse…’s a crap load of information. I do have hard evidence and pics and messages and social media accounts.

    I want to get everything from him that I can! He has hired a Super Lawyer already and I have consulted a few-but need to consult and hire an equal Super Lawyer as well. I can’t go cheap!

    • Why do you want to get everything from him that you can? It’s all tainted and toxic!

      • I’ll rephrase- I want to get everything my children and I are entitled to…..I know with his lawyer and his attitude that he got to where he is at all by himself with no help or support from me – we have four daughters that I raised – he will do everything he can to limit what I get financially while still making it look like it is fair.

        • Know your bottom line. What do you NEED to start your new life? Everyone should have a “walkaway” scenario. Sometimes it costs more to push for what would be truly fair.

    • If you’re in a “fault” state, evidence of adultery will help you get alimony. X’s Adultery being the cause of the “breakdown” of our marriage is the ONLY reason I am getting alimony for a few more years. (You’ll probably have to calculate your monthly needs & present that to judge or mediator.)

      • I used the ability to sue homeslice as leverage with my settlement at mediation. Worked nicely

    • Don’t bother documenting the abuse and affairs. Most judges don’t care. DO document every cent of every bank account, loan, debt, retirement fund and assets. Then demand at least half. If you can also prove the abuse, ask for more, then settle for half if necessary.

    • I would document as much as possible, not so much for the courts, but as good leverage, and to let shitbag know that you have their number and while you don’t necessarily want revenge, you want what’s owed to you, and you’ve put up with a lot. It’s also a good way to say, I have the information that you thought I would be too stupid to gather together, and I mean business.

  • My good friend recommended her attorney. Her friend used the same attorney also. When my therapist recommended her also I called. I did no research until after the fact.

    I was her last client, her long term partner and business partner had recently passed away. Her history: she was a huge advocate for abused children and the gay and lesbian community in my state. She was also a judge for a period.

    She charged 300 for the consult and asked for a 1500 retainer. The very first thing she gave me was a list of abusive behaviors no one should tolerate and recommended a therapist who specialized in trauma. She also gave me a list and explanation of the procedure step by step so I would know what to expect.

    She stated that it was a simple divorce, no children or assets to speak of and therefore it was straightforward. He was entitled to half my pension according to the law.

    Simple not so simple. He broke into my home while I was away and took documentation I had gathered. Always keep documentation in a safe location and have duplicates. He was outraged by the fact I hired my own attorney.

    His attorney withdrew after the Limited and Nanthony raged at her. He was given an extension to find another. Then a no show. Finally, the judge ordered that he show or default. I must say my lawyer sent a letter and in it mentioned his affairs (9 that she knows of) which is on record. The number was much higher of course. Loved her for that!

    Needless to say I threw the asshole a bone and kept my pension. My total cost: 1,800.

    Know what you want in a settlement. I watched a woman fight for a vacation home with little equity because it was his affair haven. Her main home had much equity and she could keep that home. When I saw her in the hall I told her to let that other home go and take the one with equity! A good example of following your lawyers advice.

    Another tidbit: many states have a form of the continuation act of health insurance for spouses and children at a minimal cost. However, if the one with the insurance marries or changes jobs it goes away. These laws are for insurance companies. It’s important to know this and that federal law overrides state. It has to be memorialized in the agreement.
    Look closely at your particular state.
    My cost to maintain the Limited is capped at 600 a year per our agreement for full coverage.

  • OK, this is a rather long story, but I hope someone finds this helpful:

    When my XH of 40 years left me to “find himself”, I didn’t yet know that Howorker was in the picture (and had been for 6+ months). We went into marriage counseling, and the truth finally came out about her (and his 13 other APs). Sadly, I’d been so gaslighted and so diminished for so long, I still thought we had a chance to “get past this”. My hopium pipe was lit 24/7 and I was totally delusional about where our marriage was headed.

    Until I wasn’t.

    Once I accepted the fact that I was on the Titanic, I asked several friends for divorce attorney recommendations, and the same name came up twice. I Googled him, saw that he’d been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” (yes, that’s a real thing), so I emailed him to set up an initial appointment for May 1st. His initial consultation fee was $250.

    Though I was managing our joint finances, XH could still log on and see all of our real time banking and credit card activity; writing a check for the $250 fee would have given away my plan, so I made several small and staggered ATM withdrawals and intended to pay “Ken” in cash.

    On April 30, the day before my consultation, XH walked into our marriage counseling session, announced he wanted a divorce, and promptly left. Well, OK then… needless to say, I was glad I was scheduled to see Ken the next morning!

    In order to prep for our meeting, I copied every shred of financial documentation I could find: bank statements, credit card statements, 3 years’ worth of tax returns, Social Security benefit statements, IRA and 401(k) statements, you name it. During our conversation, Ken took copious notes, asked thoughtful questions, and really listened. He directed me to think less about today and more about tomorrow; what could we negotiate today that would still be benefiting me 5, 10 or even 15 years down the road, when I was entering retirement?

    He asked me if I was ready to file. I told him it was never my intention to file; if XH wanted a divorce, he’d have to be the one to get things started. As far as I was concerned, the longer it took, the better; I was self-employed (still am) and on XH’s health insurance plan through his employer. I was going to squeeze that stone for as long as possible because I knew how expensive it would be to obtain insurance on my dime. Ken never pressured me to file; he respected my decision to take a backseat and wait patiently to see what happened next.

    It took XH almost 6 months to retain an attorney (let’s just say, that guy wasn’t a super lawyer); obviously, he was waiting for me to file, and when he finally realized I wasn’t going to do it, he was forced to take action. Then, Ken and I met again to address the preliminary (and totally ridiculous) agreement crafted by opposing counsel. Of course, what XH wanted and what I deserved were polar opposites. Unfortunately, even after 40 years, I was not eligible for spousal support; when Ken did the calculations mandated by the state, I missed the eligibility cutoff by 0.3%. It took 2 1/2 years of back-and-forth negotiations for us to reach a settlement (to clarify, our triplet sons were already in their 30s, so none of this included a custody plan).

    Granted, the process took longer than it might have if I’d been willing to negotiate directly with XH, but I refused; I’d already been Zero Contact for at least 18 months, and was not going to back off. I ignored his phone calls and text messages, and forwarded every email directly to Ken. And those emails were actually *very* helpful; XH inadvertently admitted he had money stashed in other financial accounts that I was not aware of, and, we now had evidence of his deception in writing. So when this new information came to light, Ken simply modified our version of the settlement agreement to include those accounts, and shipped it right back to opposing counsel for review. I’m sure that annoyed the hell out of XH, because he was hoping for a very cheap and very quick resolution to Cheatergate.

    Ken was extremely supportive throughout the entire divorce process, and followed my lead the entire time. He was very protective of me, and when we finally had our day in court, he would not allow XH to have any access to me. Though I would’ve preferred to inflict enough financial pain on XH for him to remember me every single day for the rest of his miserable life, I did have to make a few concessions. But, I take comfort in knowing that he lost far more than I did, so I walked away satisfied, and in much better shape than I might have if I’d used a less experienced attorney.

  • If I had a “do over” I would have taken more time and met with more than 1 attorney. What I didn’t know is, while I’d chosen mine, fuckwit was conflicting out all the attorneys that had the same caliber reputation. When I was seeking a second opinion 3 years later, I had to go out of town.

    1) Take the time in the beginning to have other options later on, should you need them.

    My thought process at that time was very reactionary. I’d heard my attorney was good and she made me feel good about “ laws that protect my interest” should he try to pull any fast ones, like quitting his job or cutting me off.

    2) Enforcing civil laws are like enforcing seatbelts; the law says you should do it, but there’s no one there preventing you from not doing it; enforcing them isn’t high on the priority list in a system that is overwhelmed. You might get caught, you might not. If you do get caught, the penalty is so minimal it’s unlikely to make you an avid seatbelt wearer if you are hell bent on the belief that not wearing a seatbelt is a violation of your freedom. Cheaters are the type that believe no one can tell them what to do, and that attitude works to their advantage in the civil system. If you are hoping someone will keep your spouse accountable, you are going to be disappointed!

    2) Don’t expect justice from the civil system! It poses no threat to someone without a Conscience. The system is easily abused and used as a weapon against the financially disadvantaged spouse. Abuse of the system by a spouse translates into billable hours for your attorney- it’s set up as a conflict of interest from the get go! Let’s be honest, your lawyer probably isn’t in it for the humanitarianism, they are making a living.

    3) Ask how they view their role as your attorney. Is it to provide you council of the law? I’m one of those people that wants to understand the process, and google only gets you so far. Ask them if they have a timeframe for returning emails, phone calls etc. If they tell you one thing and then do another, cut your losses early and move on. DONT SPACKLE!

    4) The internet is useful, but if your attorney pops up in the top 3 spots on lawyer referral sites every time, that cost of advertising will probably be reflected in their hourly rates. Think of it like the cheater parading around the smoopsie on social media; if they have to make themselves look great, they probably are not. The most expensive lawyer isn’t always the best.

    5) Ask what they typically average from filing to dissolution. If they won’t even attempt to give you an answer, be suspicious. Obviously every case is different, but you can average any set of numbers.

    6) If your spouse is the breadwinner, and there are many accounts in their name only, ask your attorney if they will file a freeze that requires large purchases be agreed on by both parties. Unless there is a freeze, the burden of proving extraordinary expenditures falls on you. Unless you’ve hired a private eye, that’s really hard to do!

    7) NEVER take legal advise from your spouse! Like “my attorney told me x,y,z”

    8) Ask how involved your attorney is with their cases. I found out too late that my attorneys role is centered around trial. The day to day aspects of my case are handled by 10 other people. My attorney really doesn’t have a clue what the hell is going on!

    Lastly, if they make you feel all warm and fuzzy and have a high retainer fee… RUN! Divorce is ugly! While we want to feel like everything is going to be okay, your attorney can’t predict that. Our civil system is NOT fair and equitable. You should know theses realities going in, and any attorney who doesn’t prepare you for the truth is trying to close the deal.

    • I forgot to add… all these lawyers work together. They all know each other and often hang out in the same circles. They do not want to do anything to piss off other lawyers, and sometimes that conflicts with your best interest. Like for example filing for sanctions, because your spouses attorney is helping to drag the process out.

      Some other things I’ve noticed that might be helpful to know…

      1) From the moment you see the words “will supplement” GET ORGANIZED! Especially if you have a complicated financial portfolio.

      2) Discovery items will start coming so unorganized that if you don’t get on top of it right away, it becomes unmanagble. There will be duplicate statements, statements out of order, etc. This is a clever way of concealing missing pages etc.

      3) Get sticky tabs! When statements come in, immediate make sure they are organized and go through them. Sticky tab any pages that have questionable expenditures on them, and circle the item in question. Add these to a spreadsheet so you can submit a dissipation claim at the close of discovery. My attorney didn’t even ask me if I wanted to do this, which leads me to my next point.

      4) Don’t sit back and think your attorney is going to be monitoring your spouses expenses – they don’t. Be proactive and stay on top of it.

      5) Make sure you have a copy of EVERYTHING you submit to your attorney. I made the mistake of closing out a bank account, brought the cash in to pay my attorney and submitted the closing statements I received from the bank (that was my only copy). We are going to trial and the other side is saying they don’t have a record of that statement and I should split the amount in that account. Getting archived copies costs money and time.

  • Having been to court over my divorce more times than is really reasonable I have learned a few things. First, it’s like the DMV, which is disorienting at first. Second, people show up in bedazzled jeans and all manner of clothing, don’t be like those people. Dress professionally, don’t be late. The private investigators know who the good lawyers are because they testify in court frequently.

  • I am a lawyer but do not practice in the field of family law. It would be like asking a brain surgeon to do heart surgery. I was fortunate that my dad practices family law so I had fantastic legal counsel and emotional support for free. I know my circumstances are extremely fortunate and unique. I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to get good counsel but unlike me, your attorney is not your friend or family member. They do bill in 6 minute increments and ultimately they want to make money on your case. So get great counsel but also seek recommendations from people who can suggest an attorney that won’t make the primary goal to bill. Many people lose their house in the divorce because the equity is what pays for the attorney fees. Be sane. Document, document, document. Remove emotion when speaking with your lawyer. Keep your lawyer on track if they start chatting just to bill. And EVERYTHING Chumplady wrote in this post is spot on!

  • Chapter 1: D-Day.
    My poor middle son finally rats on his father. Before this I had been confused as hell, confused for YEARS, about what I was doing wrong to justify sparkledick’s disqualifications, anger, etc. Never in my life could I imagine all this anger was because he was cheating on me. CN knows the routine, so I’ll skip the rest of this part of the story.

    After D-Day I’m wildly pick-me dancing and spending hours Amazon-surfing to save my marriage. After all, I had an investment of 38 years. But I stumble across a 1-star book review that sends me to Chump Lady. As I read and read (thank God for Kindle) a bitter peace comes over me. I realize the ex has never loved me, he loved what I did for him. Sparkledick has never had a single friend. No wonder.

    I also start sleuthing and discover that he had actually been cheating on me for YEARS and spending money on flatterfucks. Explains why he would get insulted whenever I asked to examine our accounts).
    Sparkledick leaves our home in a rage. Literally before he shuts the door he gives me the final bitch cookie: But I’m NOT promiscuous!”.

    Chapter 2: The Path to Divorce
    Through e-mails I try to divorce the consensual way, less expensive. I send a list of assets I want. Silence.

    One night I come home from work and find a court official waiting to serve me papers for a litigious divorce. He’s in a terrible mood because he’s been waiting for HOURS and he yells the contents of the papers for all my neighbors walking their dogs to hear.

    Why the litigious divorce?

    Because our son had rented an apartment and he needed a guarantor, which could be his parents since we owned our house. But I had refused to sign anything with a cheater. This makes the ex absolutely furious: I’m telling him he does not control me anymore.

    Chapter 3: Lawyer #1.
    My cousin is a judge in family court and recommends a lawyer who is supposed to be good at making deals. She presents a total of six proposals to sparkle’s lawyer, but we keep getting stonewalled.

    Sparkledick then starts trying to reconcile. But by now I’m a citizen of Chump Nation and I have quickly learned all about the biology and dangers of unicorns and that sparkle’s “repentance” is about consequences, especially money. Not to mention that Sparkles “repentance” is the most mediocre manifestation of human feelings I have ever seen.

    But I still need my divorce and settlement.

    Chapter #4: Pitbull Lawyers.
    A friend going through a bad divorce recommends her pitbull lawyers. At the first meeting with them, pitbull #1 says: “Clearwaters, your sparkle-boy does NOT want to make an agreement! He wants to torture you into submission to not divorce”. He was horrified with sparkle’s debts. “Is he stupid?”. I cringe in shame.

    But since it’s almost time for our first hearing in court, Pitbulls recommended going to it and tell me to be prepared to give in on at least one asset (keep expectations low and be prepared for the worst).

    Sparkledick arrives at the hearing all breezy and smiley (the charm button is flipped). When I turn my back to him he flips the rage button. He accuses me of hiding money, but I show were it went, including to pay for family trips because his credit cards are mysteriously maxed out and to help several of his brothers with their stupid debts (for example, I paid for part of the funeral of a BIL’s mother-in-law). Be prepared and NEVER pity the cheater! He then flips the self-pity button and pouts “Don’t talk that way about my brothers!”.

    In court Sparkles exclaims “Clearwaters you can trust me!”. I answer “Pray, tell me how does one go about trusting a cheater?”. Sparkles replies “But I’m NOT a cheater!”. I reply “So if you are not a cheater is (D-Day flatterfuck’s name) an extra-galactic mirage?”. Snorts and snickers all over the courtroom.

    Chapter #5: Settlement.
    As the pitbulls predict, Sparkles does not manifest anything about the proposal in the 30 days he is allowed “to think things over” and lets the divorce officially turn into litigious, far more expensive and possibly dragging on for years. All the while I have to pay a monthly fee to pitbulls. (Chumps, please set expectations VERY low…)

    But Sparkles does not expect me, at the recommendation of pitbulls, to sue him for moral damages. Please get pitbull lawyers. So THEN Sparkles has to wiggle his ass: he LIES to the judge that his debts are caused by expenses with our sons!! But my ducks are lined up –document, document, document!- and I have the proof this is not true.

    Sparkles actually has the gall to argue with the judge that it is “natural to have extra-conjugal affairs” (I have no idea to what purpose this argument serves Sparkles, but it sure makes him look awful, including to his adult sons).

    Sparkles’ lawyers do a lot of business with his job. I guess they had been working pro bono until things turned serious. I guess they also finally realize that their client is lying to them and herefore $hake $ome $ense into him: I get exactly what I had proposed in the first and only hearing PLUS sparkles pays for 70% of my pitbulls’ fees (this $ came from what was left over from his generous retirement pay that he spent on an imported car, expensive mountaineering excursion, etc.).

    • I love how in one sentence, your ex says he’s not a cheater; and then a little later, he’s telling the judge it’s natural to have affairs. Just….wow….I got the, “I”m not a cheater!” line too….smh.

  • When I decided to divorce, I consulted with my pragmatic business attorney. It turned out that she handled several divorce cases a year for mostly women clients like myself. I came to the initial meeting prepared with my spreadsheet of our assets and debts, as far as I knew. We didn’t have kids and there were no shared assets left other than the home equity. The initial consult helped me explore my opportunities and get a reality check. X rages had not crossed a threat level for a restraining order, although I was terrified of him. I learned I would likely go into $10K debt to fight over $60K in home equity to equalize our retirement accounts. Both were prescripted settlements, so if we couldn’t agree, I could always fall back to an attorney.

    I negotiated directly with x over things, and it was hard. I wasn’t a good advocate for myself, but I kept to making the numbers fair. I wrote up our agreements and modified them until he was willing to sign each, one for the house sale, general finances, and pets. I chose to allow him an obvious slight financial advantage so he was “winning”, I needed to safely get untangled. I let him take almost everything he wanted form the shared possessions. I didn’t know it would work until the last shared account was closed about a month after the house sold.

    I filed the paperwork with the county, first for a legal separation (x offered to cooperate with it vs. divorce), then after the financial settled I filed to change it into a divorce, which was a few more forms and simple fee.

    I would never have done a divorce like this if we had children I needed to support and protect from x.

    • XH and I did not have children together, either. I gave him three options and told him to talk to his attorney buddy at the bar, who told him they were all fair. I gave him everything in the house that I didn’t bring into the marriage. I wanted a clean start anyway.

      The whole deal cost me about $500, since I paid for the property transfer and an appraisal, but a Super Lawyer drew up the paperwork for the deed for $80. But I went in know both what I wanted (the house), there was enough equity in it to buy him out at 50/50, and I knew my XH hates confrontation and distrusts attorneys. I also helped him find his own house and provided his real estate with all the documentation about our house transfer. So once again, his inability to “adult” worked in my favor.

      • I used a paralegal for $350 flat. Paralegal used to work for divorce attorney, her husband was a retired court officer who filed the papers. So papers were completed and filed perfectly.

        I had X served with the divorce by the bailiff at the restraining order hearing against X. No questions about whether he was served.

        Uncontested divorce with me taking all the $30k debt (I knew X was far too disordered mentally to pay them anyway). No assets. No kids. If he fought it, I may have had to pay him support.
        Six month waiting period and viola` I was divorced – with a huge debt I am paying off still.

  • My dad is an attorney and he did my divorce. My divorce really was cut and dry because we had no children, no assets, no money, nothing. After 10 years of marriage we only had to split household items and debt. My X invested nothing and I was too busy running around investing everything into my marriage to notice.

    Everything that CL says here is great advice. My dad has been a defense attorney for 34 years and the only other piece of advice that I would offer is when you find a good attorney, DO WHAT THEY SAY. Having grown up as the daughter of a defense lawyer with friends and family that have needed my dad’s help, one thing that happens over and over again is these people do not do what my dad says they should do. My dad doesn’t give advice out left and right either. He parses out advice when someone asks and he’s the kind with a bleeding heart that will do it for free, but make no mistake, he’s a very good attorney and has done it for years. Do what your attorney says to do – even if it looks mean and you think you know your STBX better – do what the attorney says. Good attorneys have usually seen it all, so stick to their advice.

  • Really interesting posts today but if your head is spinning after DDay and you are having trouble standing up and breathing this might all seem like too much. It’s ok. I’m a very talented and successful civil litigator (commercial, not family) and I felt that way. I had no $ for bills let alone an expensive lawyer so I was terrified— I was a SAHM for 9 years and was working part-time with 4 kids and lazy abusive absent X left everything on my shoulders for years. The following are general points (consult your own attorney for your specific case):

    Don’t let the attorneys’ fees issue scare you off — if the cheater is the main breadwinner they will have to pay your fees in the end

    Download a scanner on your phone (I like scan pro) and open a drop box or google docs account and upload all those images of financial docs and label them by description- that will save a lot of time and money with your lawyer

    Do not be scared of trial into caving – you usually only get one chance at getting what you need/what the kids need — my story is that I finally filed after a year of gaslighting/blameshifting – I was a wreck. I never wanted to divorce, I wanted X to “recommit” and choose me (I’m the chumpiest Chump!) despite stringing me along and telling me he would change X tried every evil trick in the divorce. Mid-way through my attorney I chose when I was in denial and chasing unicorns revealed himself to be either suffering from cognitive decline or also a narcissist. He “fired” me and accused me of not following his strategy – complete BS because he never suggested any strategy and we hadn’t done anything in the case yet. I thought I would die I was so scared. I was devastated but I picked up the phone and called a lot of colleagues and found the best I could. He agreed to take my case –

    The divorce was hell —we had two failed mediations, and X was refusing to agree to anything like 50-50 on money. We pushed towards trial. What did I have to lose at that point? I was sick with terror but kept pushing forward. X gave me no choice – he was living with whore despite still lying and trying to manipulate me— nothing to work with and trusted he sucked. Still sucking the hopeium pipe. I kept telling myself: “if he changes back to the person I thought he was for 25 years I can remarry him and our family can be restored.” At the end of the 10 day trial I got 70% of everything and full custody and maintenance and max child support and kids’ expenses paid including college. X had to pay for my lawyer too- it was over $100K. The judge said he wished he could have given me more bc X has such high earning ability and I will never regain the traction I lost when I stopped practicing law to be a SAHM 20 years ago.

    Fast forward to today: I own two homes which I rent out for a positive cash flow; I have a small car payment; no credit card debt. I work really hard at building my new career even though I’m in my 50s. I live below my means and that makes me happy. My focus is on raising my youngest teen who is only kid still at home. I recently rented a home with BF of 3 years. We have a co-habitation agreement to spell out expectations. Life is really really good, peaceful. I’m almost 100% no contact. X is still a hateful crazed blameshifting gaslighting prick. He’s still supporting young gold digging whore but they are both cheating on each other so someone said. I don’t care. I’m free. Sad and traumatized but free of him.

    As a g

    • Similar story for me except we are physicians. After being a SAHM for a while it is so hard to get credentialed by any hospital! I’m very frightened of the future!

    • Hello MC99, I am in your area and am heading to trial the week after next. I hope to have a good outcome as well.

  • His lawyer suggested one for me. Um, nope.

    Mine is young, but smart. He was open to collaborative settlement, but able to go junkyard dog, too, and I specifically looked for that. He is not easily intimidated, and has no patience with stupidity. He’s pricey, but not over the top expensive. H’s exceedingly responsive, and knows his way around digital communication.

    He is calm about things that make me nervous, and knows when a thing is or isn’t worth getting bent out of shape about.

    I do disagree a bit with the “not a therapist” advice, because during this emotional as hell time, we absolutely need someone coolly able to sort what matters from what does not. Some shit that pisses me off does not matter. Some shit that did not really should have. His knowledge of the law and willingness to explain things helps me keeps things straight.

  • Everyone of my 4 scumbag lawyers left me in situation worse than I’d been in when I retained them. I’m divorced as of June 7 and more exposed and vulnerable than I’ve ever been. I’m on a deed and a mortgage in foreclosure with a psychopath and no protection. I was pro se for a year and didn’t do half bad despite being in way over my head. I was blindsided by my ex in the worst circumstances of my life which made our divorce complicated and expensive. He dissipated our entire household contents, I had no access to our financial documents, and he came in blazing with a men’s rights attorney accusing me of every lie in the book, including ‘parental alienation’ after abandoning us and ghosting our kids for almost a year. She made it her mission to make my life a living hell for 2 years.
    I know for a fact his attorney told him to not work or pay the mortgage (in violation of a court order) but I can’t prove it. I believe my third attorney and ex’s attorney were in cahoots to force the judicial sale of my house so they could each get their chunk of my flesh. I didn’t get child support for 15 months from a 6-figure earner SAHM 20 yr marriage.
    I was forced to attend 6 mediations at great expense. My case had zero continuity and followed none of the normal procedures or statutes. It was a nightmare.
    We went to trial on my third judge – I was slandered and maligned. I had an incompetent law student at that point because it was all I could afford. He’s botched everything. I somehow got my husband to sign a settlement agreement – don’t ask me how because it had to be a legit miracle. When his attorney learned of this she hit the roof and quit. He of course immediately contested but eventually the court held it up and incorporated it into the final judgement.
    He is in material breach of the agreement and past all deadlines. He has stated in writing he has no intention to comply.
    My law dork – who told me he’d ‘wrap it up pro se’ if I settled – discharged me after refusing outright to try to enforce the order for over 3 weeks now because he graduated the program and has a new job. Still haven’t heard from my 5th attorney, another student in the program.
    Good luck to all.

  • In my area there is a workshop called Daisy Camp for women who are divorcing. They have a lawyer, real estate agent and social worker talk about all the aspects of divorce. It was a great way to learn exactly what needed to be dealt with and prepare for divorce. If your area has something similar I highly recommend it.

    I gained all the knowledge I needed, found a lawyer who was willing to work on my terms (the first one I went to wouldn’t draw things up the way I wanted) and drove my divorce. My Ex did not get a lawyer. We handled it all through mine–big mistake on his part, but he hates dealing with things so I took advantage of that. I’m also lucky that the lawyer I found put a few things in my stipulation that covered my a**.

  • I had NO idea where to begin looking for a lawyer it’s a horrible experience and very EZPENSIVE! If you are lucky enough to qualify for legal aid your blessed but in Canada many DONT! I got lucky finally and found a wonderful young lady lawyer who is still aiding me. The divorce has cost a fortune, 15 months in now since D day and I have to apply for bankruptsy, so not much fun!????????????

  • I am going to court soon because he is trying to modify his child support. Should I go alone, or should I bring family/friends? I won’t get to see the lawyer until I get to court.

    • Bring one family member or friend. The job of this person is to support you. Maybe you need someone to take notes or to glare at the EX while you steadfastly avoid eye contact or to remind you of the six questions you need to ask your lawyer. Pick someone who can very calmly do what you need–and be clear with them about your needs. Do not bring anyone who is prone to drama. Even “easy” court sessions are hard–too much is on the line, too many other distraught people are there, too many long waits occur. This is a great time to ask for and accept help.

      Assume court will start late and run long. Have childcare plans in place for the whole day. If you work, let your boss know that you have an appointment with an unpredictable end-time, and that you cannot predict your arrival time at work.

      Carry copies of all your previous court orders and any other documentation that will support the custody or child support order you want. It would be nice if your lawyer had everything in hand, but do not count on it.

      Remind yourself that the court date may get cancelled just as you arrive, or that you’ll sit there all day and never make it to the top of the docket. Court is a great place to practice patience–but it works better if you walk in prepared to be patient.

  • In my jurisdiction, they don’t let anyone other than the people involved in the court. You might have someone go with you to wait someplace and go out after, if that helps.

  • My first lawyer was useless. I wrote the response with help from a lawyer friend on why I should remain in possession of the family home and not have it sold until my youngest turned eighteen. In California, unless you can pay off your spouse, the home is sold. The judge opened the file and said, “Nice job, on your response, Raymond. I’m impressed coming from you.”


    Fired him and hired a guy who was from out of town who did nothing but divorces that was referred to me by a friend. Same judge loved this guy.

    I think referrals from someone who has been there, and you trust, are your best bets.

  • My first lawyer was also useless. She never answered questions, or her phone or emails. Our state is no fault. I was in such a state of “what the hell happened to me” I was pretty useless. My X was classic cheater narc mode. I was way over emotional and paranoid. The first lawyer used my fears against me and really accomplished nothing, other than billable hours. She also was going for way less in alimony like 20% of his income when she promised me way more.

    So one week before mediation(required here in my county before a court trial) I switched attorneys. My former attorney was so angry and went narc mode on me. So grateful I switched. I ended up with 34% of his income and my new attorney actually answered questions. I got that fair settlement.

    Our kids were grown – only assets to divide were house stuff, investments and his pension.

    I had wrecked my car during the divorce and needed a new one and the FT was just uncooperative. He drove a high end free gas company car and wanted me in a POS car. Asshole. I ended up financing a new car a normal one on my own as a SAHM. TY great credit rating.

    And yet, I spent close to $25,000 to divorce FT.


  • Please take a person with you. I suffered so much PTSD at the time I was not thinking clearly. Came across as a mad woman. Only looking back can I say I WAS a mess. Third party to take notes and hear what you can’t.

    If you have the finances Interview EVERYONE. If you do not take the free hour consults as many as you can get.
    Be aware an attorney will say yes I have experience with “High conflict Divorce” Yet they do not. They are SELLING you. I, after years and after divorce, went through a horrific custody battle and those damn lawyers will tell you anything, add to conflict if one party has deep pockets, if you hear “wishy washy” RUN.
    I finally figured out to ask the lawyers what they knew about other lawyers, some will straight up tell you that one is mean but not a good lawyer. That one is wishy washy. Wishy Washy in my case referred to my lawyer taking my x’s lawyers bait, not fighting for me at all, and basically half believing me and half believing the x’s version.

    Look for one that has recommendations for a forensic accountants, a custody evaluator, one that has people they use over and over. One that is familiar with all judges in YOUR county. Be a hard ass. They are SELLING you be aware of that.

    Finally my first lawyer may she rest in peace was strangled to death, and then raped in her office.( in that horrific order) I got the call from my current att. and well she was flippant about it and that should of been a clue.
    TRUST your gut and never think well I have invested so much I can’t switch lawyers now…Yes you can and you will make that very clear to your lawyer. Business think of it as a business transaction. Hard at first….thats why take a straight thinker with you. Make it abundantly clear you will fire them in a heartbeat no matter “what it may look like to the courts”. Trust no one.
    Try to not worry, use that energy gathering anything and everything and writing about incidents, journaling, getting old calendars and just keep busy organizing your evidence. Overwhelmed take much needed self care even if thats just sitting staring out a window. Have a plan, for the judge if you are a SHAM. like going back to school ( will need $$ for that) re-training, cost of daycare. Even if you have no plan make one up. Research it to get good numbers. Look for a 50-50 custody as thats all they do really….then keep a good notebook calendar of everything and after 2 years unless of an emergency go back and get more custody time. Unfortunately if you have kids you may be divorced but the dynamic is still there. Doesn’t change. So you can expect to keep the documentation up for years. I know, I know divorce is just the first hurdle unfortunately….

  • My divorce was simple because we had next to zero finances and no children together. By God’s grace, I found a flat fee attorney who was wonderful. She probably was the clearest headed person in the whole mess. I am thankful for her good work.

  • If you are in the Northern VA area, the Vienna Women’s Center offers both terrific emotional support groups AND workshops on all of the legal aspects of divorce and access to low-cost lawyers who are sympathetic to chumps. Both the lawyer and the therapist I found through this organization were gems.

    Also, don’t be afraid to ask around. I guarantee that there are divorced people in your social circles who will share their stories. Don’t let fear of “telling” cheat you out of good support from those around you!

  • Hit them early, hard, and fast! In my state we HAD to do mediation. File for divorce as soon as you can. Bring all their nasty cheating evidence you can. Even if you don’t have pictures, recordings, etc. THEY KNOW THEY CHEATED. They know they will lose and their attorneys will tell them the judge may or may not care that you cheated/abandoned children/risked health and safety, etc. My ex tried to hold out but at the end of the day he knew he would spend more on attorney fees than to just give me what I wanted in the divorce. We didn’t have much anyways because we were youngish with 3 children, new house and he had sold off most of our things that had value. (It went into our bank account for the kids and family expenses) after you divorce I suggest representing yourself with any custody changes or support orders you would like addressed. It’s really not too hard. Just seems impossible at first. I’ve represented myself 3 times now and won every time. I always try and do what’s best for the kids and I think the courts can see that because he always tries to bring some weird scheme/schedule and they always side with me. SO, don’t delay!!! Act now!! Trust me, I thought I wanted to keep him but 3+ years out and I love my life!! Screw him and that gross whore! I WON!!!!!

  • You need to be honest with your advocate, and know your situation (I certainly didn’t have all the facts at my fingertips when I started.)

    Having said that, I did best with cool, calm, collected lesbian (family) attorneys. I’m straight, cis-female, but for whatever reason, these people understood the abuse and what kind of advocacy I needed in a no-fault state with a recently-passed spousal support restriction statute.

    That last would have been OK, but my physical health was utterly broken by the cheater–turns out abuse can do that!–so returning to FT work has really been a challenge.

  • Many people advised me to hit hard and early to cash in on his guilt and get the best settlement, but instead my lawyer and I slowed everything down which resulted in an additional two years of health insurance coverage and financial support for me that I would not haven’t gotten in the divorce settlement. I knew my partner of 29 years well enough to know it would take him forever to go to a lawyer and file for divorce. I found a great lawyer chump, her doctor husband dumped her and their two young children for another woman as soon as he earned his M.D., so she understood the shit sandwich and got me a great settlement. You have to weigh all the advice and apply it to your particular situation.

  • My X wanted us to use the same attorney so we could “agree on everything and it would be easy and inexpensive.” I replied that I didn’t agree and it wasn’t going to be easy and that I was going to take him for everything he had. Probably not the best thing to say, but I had been blindsided by his decision to leave the marriage after 30 seemingly happy years together. He couldn’t tell me why he was leaving, what had happened, refused to consider counseling. And, when he finally made his decision to leave and started talking about why, he laid all the blame at my feet!

    Anyway, I started calling everyone I could think of to ask for attorney recommendations. X was later shocked to find out that, since I was calling them for advice, most of our friends knew he had walked out on me without explanation. I had a list of names to call from these recommendations, but then I remembered a client whose husband had left her and their daughter a few years before and decided to ask her. After doing some sleuthing (it had been about 5 years and she had moved and changed her name!), I finally found her. She couldn’t recommend her attorney, but she had a friend in the middle of divorcing after a 40 year marriage who had a “cracker-jack” female attorney with whom she (the friend) was very happy. I called that attorney and hired her and I think she did a great job for me. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but she made sure I had what I needed to start over. We didn’t have kids, so no custody issues, but we had property and 2 dogs. I got out of the marriage with the dogs, my teaching supplies and music equipment (including a $35K piano), the furnishings and kitchen equipment I wanted, decent spousal support and no debt. I have recommended her to other friends and even someone on CN who was looking for an attorney in that area last year. It turns out she is also a Super Lawyer. I’m so glad I remembered that client and was able to track her down!

    My X went through 2 attorneys, neither of which was very good in my opinion. The first he hired from a website – I think he must have googled something like “easy non-contentious divorces” because the main attorney of that practice wrote a book about basically that very thing. I read the book because X left it for me, but I found the whole idea of divorcing amicably to be absurd at that point. He claims he “fired her” because she wasn’t any good – of course he did this just as we were about to agree on a separation agreement and about a month before I was due to move 2500 miles away. The 2nd attorney he hired wasn’t even a divorce attorney! She was a tax law specialist who didn’t know anything about divorce laws in our county. My attorney had to educate his attorney on how things worked in our jurisdiction. Maybe that was to my advantage as my attorney told me that she told his attorney “I routinely am awarded higher than average spousal support for long term marriages with this level of income disparity.” (This after his attorney kept trying to low ball the spousal support amount and/or limit years to pay into the separation agreement). He agreed to the Separation Agreement the day I left town.

    One last thing. My attorney actually moved about 90 miles away in the middle of my divorce. She gave me the option to change attorney’s, but I really liked her and she didn’t think that we would need to go to court. So, I kept her and we did all of our meetings on the phone or email. I only actually met with her twice – once at the initial interview, and then after I had delivered the paperwork (which I copied, redacted and bound into a large 3 ring binder). I made a matching one for me, too. She told me I saved money doing that myself.

  • I was such a frantic mess, even my lawyer didn’t want to work with me, yet I kept paying the bill. It was such passive and unsupportive representation, like being alone, in the middle of the ocean, with nothing but a life jacket. I made choices out of fear, naivety, paranoia and procrastination. It’s been difficult not to beat myself up over it, so I can move past it. I hadn’t even had a lawyer in the initial divorce, but had to get one when my ex went for primary custody. I should have had one in the divorce, when he was willing to give things out of guilt.
    The divorce was after 2 yrs of pick-me-dancing, while he lived with her. We had everything in agreement, through a paralegal, and as I was going to get it notarized to file, when he told me he would have it done, and I stupidly handed him the paperwork.
    Enter his lawyer, to whom he’s directly related. I live in a no-fault state. Mediation is required, with no one else allowed except for involved parties.
    I wanted nothing from him. Not even the house or alimony, even though we co-owned a business. He’s a big spender, and I wanted none of the debt. I wanted to be done. That went fairly simply, apart from all the bullshit heavy emotion and $1000 bucks from my pocket.
    When our kid turned full-time school-aged, my ex wanted to enroll him in the town of the old married home, even though my kid had been in preschool with me for 2 years, and ex lived in my same town for a year. At first, I was just going to give my ex primary custody…I was so broken down, intimidated and used to giving into him, I actually thought it was the best thing. I was discouraged by the luxury of affording a lawyer, especially after our business bankrupted us. I was lucky to have the emotional and financial support of my family.
    Long story short: we mediate custody, they tell him kid stays in school in my place of residence; then my ex suddenly tells mediator that he is moving again, to a different neighboring city, only he lied about the actual city, which is 25 minutes further away, in the same county, on top of the other 45 minutes from his house to where my kid attends school. Both the mediator and my lawyer said it would be a good idea to make my kid travel to another town and back, in the middle of the school week, because I needed a sitter for one night a week, and apparently it was the same town my lawyer commuted from to work everyday. I haven’t needed a night sitter for over a year. Ex refuses to let kid stay with me on that school night.
    I wasn’t even going to negotiate a weekend with my kid, because of how guilty I felt for finally divorcing my ex and splitting the family, (because he suddenly wanted real reconciliation once the divorce date was in sight….my ass!) I eventually did. Plus, my ex not wanting me to have any weekends, atleast revealed to the mediator how entitled he was, that she even said it.
    I have been looking for the courage and financial resources to go back, yet have often weighed if spending a ridiculous amount of money is worth one evening. Even the lawyers I have interviewed asked me the same. But then I feel for my kid, who is still young, and didn’t choose this, and I don’t feel it’s the best set-up for him; but now it’s been this way for so long, he’s used to it.
    I agreed to this proposal because I was afraid of the smear campaign if it went to court, and everyone else had to rush to their next appointments. I put it behind me so quickly because I was glad it was over, I didn’t address all the mistakes in the agreement, within the two days filing grace period I might have had – things ex proposed but I outright disagreed to that she forgot to take out of her copy/paste paperwork. I didn’t see all the ways I fucked myself, until long after. My lawyer and I never had a meeting or discussion about what was an ideal parenting plan, or what to expect from mediation….crickets.
    My kid says his dad is planning on moving back to original town again. Just gotta wait and see, I suppose, and hope that his 50/50 shared time wont tip over into primary… get my ducks in a row. My ex hates going through court or anything legal, as he has some personal history with that and doesn’t want a judge telling him what to do. I’m afraid he might try to punish me by assassinating my character and trying to stage me as an unfit parent, like he did before, but he’ll have to go to great lengths to prove it, and that’s just too much work for him, unless his family gets involved…
    The whole civil justice system just seems like one big joke when you can’t trust anyone: whether its your lawyer who’s making an easy buck, or the judge in charge of your child’s future, or the mediator to use word processing correctly, or especially your ex, who can’t even be honest in a judicial setting. It’s discouraging. I’m trying to have faith that the next time will go better and be worth the legal battle, but faith in my government has generally always been nil; yet I really don’t prefer resorting to manipulation tactics on my ex, risking becoming him.
    Now, I think I’m at least in a place of peace and self-empowerment that I could emotionally handle going back to mediation. I’ve worked hard at healing, setting boundaries, and standing up for myself, so that I don’t keep sabotaging my efforts. Been single for three years, so have had time for self-reflection and maturation, and time to get used to status quo of taking care of me, and minimal grey rock contact. I still have days where I remember the pain, but mostly trying to get past it with the present moment and gratitude that I no longer have to put up with it, atleast to my face on a daily basis…
    “No, you can’t take your lego spaceship, because your mom will get mad if it breaks…” Whatever dude. I give two fucks about broken legos, unless I step on one…because at my house, our kid is expected to clean up his mess. Sorry you can’t be a real parent and tell your kid no without it being someone else’s fault.

  • I agree with the advice given, choose a lawyer that had a cool head and lots of experience with high conflict personalities. I would ask if the lawyer knows of Bill Eddy’s work on high conflict personalities.

    In addition to Bill Eddy’s work, I read all I could find about personality disorders, including:
    “Why does he do this?” By Lundy Brancroft
    “Disarming the Narcissist” By Wendy Behary
    CL archive, especially the three mindfuck channels and remorse naughyde

    And as many have suggested, I would recommend to start your care package:
    Make copies of all financials and open a safety box at a bank for all your important document (e.g. birth certificates, passports, SS statements)
    When you go grocery shopping, buy a $20-40 gift card each time, use an amount that is not going to be suspicious.
    Squirrel away cash as much as you can
    Secure a individual therapist with experience in cluster B abuse recovery
    If you have kids sign up immediately for a parenting software like ourfamilywizard or custodyxchange. All communications via custody software are receivable in court and that knowledge might minimize abuse from cheaters (or if they proceed with their abuse that will be used to make divorce terms decisions by the judge).
    Fight with everything you have to make sure that your kid gets minimal exposure to your husband’s entitled ways and build the best possible life for you and your kids.

    This is a scary and really really hard road ahead, but listen to your gut, you know that this short-term transition is going to be rough but it is a better option than to stay and have your life sucked away from you by someone who does not show respect and care for you.

  • Dissipation Issues in Divorce
    A type of financial fraud specific to divorce is dissipation. Dissipation occurs when one spouse, essentially, wastes property or money without the knowledge or consent of the other spouse. There are many legal definitions of what constitutes dissipation, but they all involve minimizing marital assets by hiding, depleting, or diverting them. Some examples include:

    Money spent on extramarital relationships (hotels, trips, gifts, etc.).
    Gambling losses.
    Transferring or “loaning” cash or property to others.
    Selling expensive assets for much less than they’re worth.
    Spending down business cash account.
    Excessive spending, including hobbies.
    Residence falling into foreclosure
    Ruining personal items.
    Work tools left out to rust.
    Destroying or failing to maintain marital property.
    If there has been an intentional dissipation of marital assets, the innocent spouse may be entitled to a larger share of the remaining marital property; this is something to discuss with an experienced lawyer.

    • Taken from Divorce Magazine, Financial Fraud and Divorce by Peggy L. Tracy.

  • I got the Nolo Press pamphlet about divorce in CA; read it thoroughly, paid a legal assistant to do the paperwork, took care of the contacting and filing of service, then filing the paperwork, appeared in court myself, and was clean and done in six months. I was fortunate that neither of us had minor children and I severed myself from his pension, etc., and he was anxious to get away without chewing off his leg so he could be with his old high school sweetheart. Made it really simple.

  • Great advice.

    A lot of people are commenting on filing right away vs taking your time. I suggest also factoring in your spouse’s ability to maintain income, assets and resources during the separation. I had to file sooner than I would like because STBX is/was so out of control that I had to worry for my safety and the preservation of our assets and income. He’d been arrested a few times for crazy behavior and had been given warnings by the board of the company he ran, started spending crazy $ on Vegas trips, night club tables, affairs, and after the separation that’s only got worse with no one to rein in his behavior and him acting like he had nothing to lose. I also saw indications during the separation that he was possibly starting to hide Financial assets. I realize this is not everyone’s case, but there are cases where I think it’s worth thinking through this and how it might play into a settlement as well.

  • I can prove his adultery. I spoke to two attorneys. The most I can get is 60% of total assets. I live in New Hampshire, USA. Plus what he bought for the whore from our community assets.

  • Good Lawyers are WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD.

    They have seen it all, know the $$$ tricks – and most importantly, can see financial implications further down the line – and take steps to countermove them, or insist on financial guarantees.

    PLEASE DO NOT try to do this stuff without a lawyer.

    It is better to file straight away, than wait. (I waited 5 years before I finally threw in the towel of Hope and filed. Ask me how I know this)

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