- Double Legal Fees.
Jennifer thought my price was too high. She went with her husband to a discount “divorce mill” in another county that promised a cheap divorce in under a month. The divorce papers were filed but her ex- was refusing to move out. Not only that, he was making sexual advances. One night, they got in a fight and the police were called. They arrested Jennifer and put a restraining order in place preventing her from going home! The result: we had to act quickly to transfer the upstate case to the city and make an emergency motion so that Jennifer could see her 2-year-old son. Her fast, cheap divorce turned into a full-out court battle. “If I had only paid you the first time to negotiate, you wouldn’t have left these loose ends!” she lamented. Instead she paid the divorce mill and then she paid me to clean up their mistakes.
- Bad Financial Decisions.
“This is taking too long! I can’t stand it anymore,” Ben told me. We had been negotiating his divorce for two months and were now waiting to be assigned for the first hearing in his case. “I’m ready to sign anything just to get this over,” he said. But I wouldn’t let him. He was offering to pay for his wife’s rent indefinitely, an offer that she would most likely be willing to accept. “She lives in a small one-bedroom right now, but what if she moves to Trump Towers?” I asked him. Several months later and his wife had a new live-in boyfriend, and Ben was over the idea of financing their rent. “Let him pay for it,” he said. “You were right – I’d be kicking myself right now if I had agreed to that!”
Tip: Take some time out to think about financial decision-making; there is a reason people say “sleep on it,” because a little extra time can save you big in the long run!
- Delayed Fighting.
Judith’s husband Brian had a string of adulterous affairs, including sleeping with her best friend. After a whirlwind of negotiations, the parties signed a divorce agreement that was extremely favorable to Judith, thanks to Brian’s guilty conscience. Judith claimed she was “so over it” but she was still angry texting Brian and his girlfriend. She was at the end of the legal process, but the start of her emotional process. Judith and Brian started to argue about their agreement. Brian regretted his quick decisions and brought a post-divorce court case. Judith felt that she had “let him off too easy” and countered with her own allegations. Despite being divorced, the couple hadn’t worked through their emotional process – they were still hurt and angry! – and were back to an in-court fight that would take months or years to resolve.
- Extended Living Together.
Marjory was elated. “He says he’ll agree to anything I want so long as he can stay in the apartment for the next eight months.” She felt like the benefits of a fast agreement outweighed the negatives, despite my warnings. Four months later and Marjory was not a happy camper. “You were so right!” she said. She thought that his presence in the apartment would help the kids adjust, but it only caused upset. “And, he’s going through all my things and talking about getting back together!” The agreement was signed and the divorce was already final, but the parties hadn’t separated delaying the upheaval in the home for themselves and the kids. Now Marjory’s ex- had to face the divorce, and he was dragging his feet, which led them to post-divorce court fights to get him out of the house.
Tip: Avoid post-divorce fighting: don’t agree to live together after the divorce is final!
Did you or someone you know rush parts of their divorce that resulted in added costs? Join the conversation in the comments!