I am cursed with the belief that when dealing with an adult, I’m being told the truth. I would think that by now I’d be over that, having been repeatedly lied to by my spouse, but no, I still take adults’ words at face value. Given this, I believed my attorney when he expressed outrage at my spouse’s behavior, and my predicament. I also believed him when he said he would “fight” for me, he would make sure justice prevailed, that he really cared about me and he would go the extra mile to make sure I was taken care of. Guess what? It was a lie.
Here’s the thing: he would tell you that he didn’t “lie”, he simply did his job, which is to get me to pay him a retainer, then let him do his thing. He would go on to tell you that yes, the judicial system is remarkably unfair to stay-at-home moms/dads, and he has done the best that he can within the parameters of the “system”. If you were to question him further he would probably follow up with the idea that he, as an attorney, is supposed to bring you on as a client, then gently guide you through the cluster-fuck that is our countries divorce code. And I have no doubt, he would believe, to the core of his being, every one of those rationalizations.
Here is the truth: Lawyers only make money when they are billing a client. There is no salary, unless you are a partner or work for the government. They earn nothing if they have no client to bill. So our system has essentially forced them to lie for their supper. My guess is that many of them have no idea, when they are agreeing to uphold and hold sacred our legal system, that there is no real way to do that, except to not get paid.
It reminds me of realtors. They lure you in with their promises of how much they will get for your house, and I believe that they hope to do that. In the end though, it’s easier for them to force you to take an offer 25K below what you should take than to actually work at “selling”. They are losing at most $1,000 if you take the low ball offer and, they are freeing up their time to sell other houses. The fact that you, as the seller, are going to lose over 23K makes no difference to them, and I’m quite sure they rationalize this by telling themselves they are doing you a favor, cutting your losses, helping you to “move on”.
There is a name for this behavior: Selling Out. It’s funny to me that we’ve actually named this practice. This practice of giving up what is right, telling lies to earn your pay, taking advantage of people at their lowest point, is tempered in the mind of the doer with the phrase “selling out”. In using this phrase they are able to justify their behavior. They have to put food on their table, make their BMW payment, buy the newest Iphone, so of course they do what they do.
There was a time in my life in which I was earning little. I had a BA degree and was almost done my MA in Psychology, and I still had to work 2 jobs to make ends meet. And when I say “make ends meet” I mean pay for the efficiency apartment I lived in and the repairs on the clunker car I owned. I was not living it up. The degree program I was in would have allowed me to bill insurance for private sessions. When I finished the degree I would be able to hang out my shingle and bill insurance companies $100/hour to talk to rich people about their problems. The money was enticing. I had chosen that program knowing that at the end I’d be able to bill insurance for my work. What I hadn’t understood was that I would be billing a population I had no desire to serve. I wasn’t interested in the problems of the well-off. I was interested in teenagers; they were who I wanted to help. There was no avenue though for me to bill for my work with teenagers. Rather, I was stuck in a job paying $1/hour over minimum wage, offering no advancement or potential.
At that point in my life I was faced with a choice: 1) Use my degree to take money from insurance companies paid by rich people, 2) live in poverty, or 3) choose a different line of work. I chose number 3, and I do not regret it. To this day I do not regret it. I wish I had been able to live out my dream of helping teenagers, but I was not. I wanted a 1 bedroom apartment and a new car, so I changed my career track.
Perhaps it is human nature for me to hold myself in higher esteem than those who made a different choice than I, but honestly, I believe that I made the morally correct choice. I gave up my dream to ensure my financial security, and I do not regret that decision. It has enabled me to live honestly, which I thought was the goal for grown ups. Apparently I am in the minority here.
As a screwed up teenager, I met a lot of kids/people who were screwed up, but inherently good people. Faced with a moral choice, they would make the right choice, regardless of the cost to themselves. Perhaps this is why they were labeled screwed up?
As I pulled myself together and entered adulthood, I took with me what I had learned from that group of misfits: there is a right and a wrong, and people, when given the ultimatum, choose the right. That group convinced me that people are inherently good. People were inherently good, and, if they were inherently good, the rest of the world had to be also, right? Those teens were the ones who were “screwed up”, so if they were good in the core of their being, all mankind had to be good, right?
Boy did I misinterpret that! If only I had realized that they were “screwed up” by the standards of our culture. They were viewed as “screwed up” because they put right above all else. They would give the shirt off their back if it was the right thing to do, a value not cherished in our world.
Here’s what I now know to be fact:
- not all people are good
- evil exists in our world
- many people do not make the right choice
- people choose jobs over morality every day
- people justify wrong choices with really bad excuses, like “I had to buy my son a new IPad”
- what I thought was “growing up”, i.e. making the choice to pursue a different career, was actually a decision that would be viewed as stupid by many
- growing up actually means understanding and accepting that there are bad people out there, and they will hurt you, then use ridiculous justifications to live with themselves.
If you happen to be getting divorced from a spouse with whom you own a business, here’s a few more facts you should know.
- Your attorney will tell you that your spouse can’t just sell the business to get out from under you. This is a lie. Your spouse can do that.
- Your attorney will tell you that if your spouse does do that, he/she will be assigned an “earning capacity” equal to what he/she was earning during your marriage and will have to pay child support/alimony based on that earning capacity. Lie.
- You will be hire an accountant who will tell you that he/she will determine the actual value of the business and/or the spouses salary. This is a lie. The accountant will take your money then tell you “well there’s no way to say for sure”.
- You think that your spouse would never go so far as to sell the business to get out from under you. After all, you spent 25 years together, opened 3 businesses together and had 3 children, he would never do that. Wrong. He would, and he will, and no one will stop him.
- In the end, when your spouse has done all of the things your attorney assured you he couldn’t do, when your accountant has finally told you he can’t “prove” anything, and when your lawyer has said that your spouses earning capacity is being set far below what he earned during your marriage, You Are Screwed. As my attorney so graciously put it on Friday, “I’m more than happy to keep taking your money but this offer is the best you’re going to get”.
My evil spouse did what he needed to do to get out from under me and our children. My attorney did what he needed to do to maximize his billable hours, while decreasing the possibility that he won’t get paid. I’m sure he’s lined up several new clients in the interim. Our “system” did what it does – it protects those that pay for it’s assistance.
I am 100% serious when I tell you this: if you are divorcing a covert narcissist, WALK AWAY. You will not come out unscathed. You will be destroyed. And trust me, I have been a major advocate against this thought process. I’ve spouted off numerous times on this blog and other places, saying it is my responsibility to pursue justice, to hold my narc responsible, to prove that evil doesn’t win. How naive I was.
Evil Does Win, and it always will. It always will because it simply doesn’t care.
4 thoughts on “Divorce Attorneys: The Truth”
Thank you for being so open and direct! After so many years of being lied to – not just as a betrayed husband, but as a person – reading my own thoughts in somebody else’s words reminds me that nobody travels alone.
I’d feel better if my stbx was living in poverty. Instead, he’s moved in with his GF and has taken 4 vacations so far this year (Jamacia, Napa Valley, Jersey Shore & UNC). Not that it matters, right? It just sucks!
That really does suck. How do judges let them get away with that crap?
Who knows? Maybe mine has got money stashed away. I doubt it though. My lawyer subpoenaed his bank records. It looks like he and Harley blew through it and now he’s crying ’cause he’s poor.
I’m so sorry. That’s so unfair. I think I’m going to be sitting on that bench with you in a few months.
I think my first attorney really dropped the ball on my divorce. My second attorney should have been fantastic but I’ve got a STBX who is trying to mount a PTSD defense. He’s not paying a dime and I honestly don’t think he ever will.
They’re really good at telling you what *should* happen, aren’t they? I was told by 2 different lawyers that if he didn’t pay we could throw him in jail. I was told that if he quit or got fired they would impute his wages. Currently, he’s not sitting in jail because we haven’t pursued that yet and I’m thinking with him claiming mental illness his wages won’t be imputed. It just sucks all around big time. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that he’s going to live in poverty, too!