Archive for May, 2015

Trying To Punish Someone During Your Divorce Process Only Hurts You Financially

Divorce hurts enough no matter what the reason. Perhaps there is a violation of intimate trust, abuse or straight abandonment. In any case, that hurt should not be turned towards your legal proceedings.

In California – and most states – courts do not look at fault in divorce. There is no punishment and the court will not find someone “guilty.” Too often, when discussions turn bad, the accusations start flying in both directions which only increases the desire for retribution.

A good professional will not let you do this. But some attorneys may allow you to vent through court pleadings. This runs up a bill, irritates the judge and only leads to a far more expensive process.

Are there times when accusations are warranted? Yes. But these are rare and typically extraordinary in nature. Hiding assets is one of the most sensitive and can carry the most punitive of punishments.

One famous case is the marriage of Denise and Thomas Rossi. Married for 25 years, Denise started their divorce proceedings to the surprise of Thomas. She was in a hurry.

Her haste appeared to be based on her having won $1.3 million in the California Lottery, which was kept secret from Thomas. That act violated state asset disclosure laws. As a result the judge awarded 100% of those lottery winnings to Thomas. Superior Court Judge Richard Denner determined that her actions were based on intent to commit fraud. She had admitted in a deposition that she wanted to keep the winnings away from her husband. As further punishment “…the family court could have imposed attorney’s fees on Denise as an additional penalty under Family Code section 1101, subdivision (h). It chose not to do so. It was within its discretion in making this order.”

Most cases do not involve such activities and most cases will be settled based on an attempt to be equitable in the outcome. Nothing is done to “punish” someone for being a “bad” person.

As noted, efforts to “punish” or to get every penny gives legal counsel the position of having to charge far more for time and effort in preparing and filing motions with the court. Then there is the attorney’s appearance at court and the response to any action at court. The result is a high-cost divorce and less money for living expenses.

The better option is to look at divorce as the dissolution of partnership – a venture that may have gone wrong. That is probably not the emotional reality of the interaction. But from a dollars-and-cents point of view, that is the better option for a more economical outcome.

Remember, for every advantage that one person may try to gain in the divorce, there is $350+ per hour cost of legal fees, not including office overhead and court costs, that both must pay.

If you want to read about this case, you can go to the following link:

http://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/4th/90/34.html

 

By: Armand & Robbin D’Alo