So many are destroyed by the divorce court systems. DivorceForce met one such person who wanted to put out yellow flags for those beginning the process.
Our interview with him follows.
DivorceForce: You have had a difficult journey through divorce. You feel the courts made things worse. Briefly, why do you feel that way?
Anonymous: There were so many outrageous experiences in the courtroom. I had been in civil court many times before, as I had run a financial firm and had a lot of run of the mill matters that forced me to either sue or be sued—so I thought I knew what civil court was like. Nothing prepared me for Judge “X’s” Court. It was Kafka-esque, like something out of the imperial past. My ex-wife’s attorney was very obnoxious and said outrageous things; and when I would make a face or smirk, I was chastised and threatened by the bailiff, who looked and acted like a Nazi brown shirt.
It was clear from the very beginning that the protocols of the court and its own sense of self-importance were the prime objective, and the welfare of my family was not particularly important. The judge wasn’t there to follow NYS statutes; she was there to judge and punish based on her sense of what was deserved, like a self-appointed grand jury.
I next had a judge act as a special referee on my ex’s contempt motion. She had on her desk the lyric from the Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want, you get what you need,” which pretty much summed up her approach to the work. She wasn’t there to adjudicate according to the statute, but rather, based on what she felt you deserved according to her value system.
Our latest judge made it clear that family law was a business, and one needed to pay expensive legal fees to be successful; something, by the time he got involved, I was unable and unwilling to do.
DivorceForce: You have suggested that the court system was unfair and failed everyone involved. What happened? How can the courts work to suit the interests of all in a family experiencing divorce?
Anonymous: My ex-wife had no sense of reality when it came to her spending. Her behavior was not in line with my greatly diminished earning potential when I left Wall Street, and she was basically spending us into bankruptcy. Her lawyer fought tooth and nail so my ex could control the remaining assets that our family had left—so she could continue to spend $40K to $60K a month.
To accomplish her ends and justify her excessive fees with “results,” my ex’s lawyer made me out to be a “bad guy.” There were unsubstantiated allegations and mud slung. The judge clearly bought into all of this and wanted to punish me, and basically let my ex destroy our family financially.
My solution on how to fix the broken system would be to have a court run not by a judge, but by an administrator who carries out NYS guidelines and doesn’t inject his/her personality, ego and opinions into the proceedings—a simple bureaucrat who would run the process, rather than a vain judge who oversteps the bounds of the role and seeks to run—and ruin—people’s lives
DivorceForce: You have some strong views with regard to divorce attorneys, at least from your experience. Care to share these views?
Anonymous: The family bar is a tremendous racket. The main point is to enrich and aggrandize its members at the expense of the clients they are supposed to serve. There should be a cap on what they can charge over the life of the case, based on the net worth of the family when it comes into the court. When that cap is exceeded, they should have to work for no further payment. This would encourage them to scale and scope their work based on the means of the family, and not according to their own greed and need for income.
DivorceForce: Some reading this may feel you are bitter, but when we last spoke you emphasized that your agenda was simply to help someone else not go through the sh*t you had to experience. That said, what is your advice to others?
Anonymous: While this has been a tremendous negative in my life and is far from over, there are a lot of positive things in life as well. So my advice to others is: Don’t let a difficult divorce steal your mojo. Don’t let it be a dark cloud that ruins your life.
I tried to take a low-budget approach to legal, and that wound up being self-defeating. One must be a realist; calculate your net worth before you go into court, and figure at least 20 percent of that is going to be gone. Then find the best attorney you can based on that budget. If you and your spouse are reasonable and amicable, try to settle as easily and quickly as possible. If he/she is impossible, attempt to keep the bitterness and venom to a minimum.
Most importantly, try to protect your children at all costs. The family court isn’t going to care about them and will happily sacrifice their happiness and well-being in favor of an expensive and vicious battle, which enriches the attorneys and pleases the court. You must do everything in your power to protect them, even if it means humbling yourself and agreeing to an unfair deal. I failed at this, and I encourage others to learn from my mistakes.