Monday, February 27, 2012

The Value of a Dollar

In my experience, three things usually fuel a divorce: money, sex, and greed.  But sometimes it doesn't make financial sense to be greedy or to fight over things or to battle over your spouse's infidelity.  I am not a financial expert.  I'm an attorney.  But most of my clients have financial issues that need my advice.  One of the most common issues that I encounter is whether something is worth fighting for.  It's easy in divorce to let your emotions overrule your usual sense of good judgement.  But just because you want to fight over something doesn't mean it's worth fighting for.

Take for example, hypothetically speaking, a lamp.  Imagine that you and your spouse own a lamp that both of you want to keep.  It's not that special of a lamp in the sense that it's rare or valuable, but you want it and your spouse wants it for whatever personal reasons each of you might have.  How much do you want to pay your attorney to fight over the lamp?  If your attorney is billing you by the hour and the attorney spends 3 hours fighting over the lamp, you just bought yourself a very expensive lamp...maybe.  You might not even get the lamp when it is all said and done.  You probably just wasted your money either way.  But if you want the lamp that bad and are willing to pay for it, then by all means, go for it.

How about your spouse's retirement plan worth $3000?  Assuming you're entitled to half, how much do you want to pay your attorney trying to get $1500 that will probably be taxed and penalized at a total of 30-40%.  How much do you want to pay your attorney to make you $900?  If you're paying an attorney by the hour, it won't take long to spend more on your attorney than what you will ultimately receive from the asset.

What about child support?  How much is it worth to get a few bucks a month more in child support?  If you spend $1000 on your attorney to make $20 more per month in child support, it's going to take you over 4 years to break even on child support.  In the long run maybe it's worth it, maybe not.  But these are the things you should be thinking about.  Do you even know what your attorney is fighting for and how much you're spending to fight over it?

If your attorney is not telling you that you're wasting your money, it's probably because you're wasting your money on your attorney.

I intentionally placed emphasis on that last statement for a reason.  Believe it or not, I sometimes have to tell my clients that it just doesn't make financial sense to waste their money on me.

The value of a dollar has many definitions.  My job as your attorney is to maximize the value of your dollar, but ultimately, it is the client's decision whether to fight over that lamp or anything else for that matter.  Like I said, money, sex and greed fuel divorce so sometimes I make a good living fighting for that lamp.  And who knows, the value of the pleasure you get from lighting your living room and telling the story to all of your visitors about how you came to own that lamp might just be worth a couple thousand dollars.  Who am I to say?  I just give legal advice.

These examples are very generalized and don't necessarily incorporate many other factors taken into consideration during divorce cases that might affect the overall value of your assets and the disposition of those assets.  For specific answers to specific questions, consult an attorney.  This is not intended to be legal advice nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship.  For legal advice, consult an attorney.


The information you obtain from this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. I invite you to contact me and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting me does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to me until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
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