by Jeff Landers, CDFA, Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, * LTD Contributor
How “Conflicting Out” Top Divorce Attorneys Can Impact Your Divorce
I am not in favor of dirty tricks during divorce. However, pretending they never happen doesn’t do anyone any good, either.Divorcing women need to understand the full range of tactics some husbands use, and they need to be proactive –not reactive --as they work to secure the best possible divorce settlement. To that end, if you are contemplating divorce, you need to know about a tactic I see quite often in financially complex divorce cases:
“Conflicting out” all the top divorce lawyers
By “conflicting out” certain attorneys, your husband can make it difficult for you to hire the lawyer that’s best for you. Here’s how it works: He makes appointments with all the top lawyers in your area. Then, he meets with each one –but only for a short time. All he needs to do during those meeting is share enough information to create an attorney-client relationship. Once he does, that particular attorney will be prohibited from representing you.
Of course, your husband doesn’t actually have to hire any of these attorneys. The entire goal with this tactic is to “conflict out” attorneys so they cannot be hired by you.
Celebrities frequently use this strategy –and men aren’t the only ones that do. In fact, Heidi Klum made headlines earlier this year for divorce attorney “shopping” in Los Angeles. Of course, Heidi simply may have been interviewing divorce attorneys to find the most qualified and the one she would be most comfortable with – a perfectly legitimate endeavor.
The lesson here is simple. Don’t procrastinate when hiring a divorce attorney. If you do, you could miss out on the opportunity to retain a great lawyer!
What are some other tactics used by husbands during a divorce?
Don’t get me wrong. Not all divorces are bitter battles. Some are relatively amicable, and the vast majority is settled outside the courts. However, at Bedrock Divorce Advisors we've seen quite a few underhanded financial and legal tactics employed by husbands or their divorce teams.
Many husbands will also:
Stall and delay. By repeatedly rescheduling court hearings and/or filing excessive motions and requests for evidence, a husband can drive up his wife’s legal costs and stretch out the time during which she must cover living expenses. In these cases, the husband is hoping she'll run out of money and be forced to agree to his settlement offer, which is often extremely unfavorable to her.
Exert pressure to proceed too quickly. A husband who wants his wife to agree to a “quick” settlement may have something to hide. For instance, very early in the process, the husband’s attorney may send over a settlement proposal for the wife to review and counter. Usually, this means the husband just wants to get the divorce over and done with quickly, and he wants his wife to settle for what appears to be a reasonable offer. The problem, of course, is that in many cases, she has not received all the discovery documents requested, so she doesn’t have complete knowledge about key financial matters, such as marital assets, income sources, expenses, what they owe and what's owed them.
Rushing to get a settlement is especially sneaky if the husband has been busy hiding assets and/or income and now he is trying to get her to agree to a 50-50 split of only a portion of their total assets!
Deny access to financial resources. Unfortunately, many married women do not take a hands-on approach to the family finances. During a divorce, a husband can use her lack of knowledge to his advantage. He can ensure that only he can access family funds, cut off his wife's credit cards, move funds out of family accounts, etc. Actions like these can leave his wife without the money necessary to buy groceries, much less hire the right divorce team to represent her…while he hires an excellent team to represent him.
This is especially problematic for abused women who live in constant fear of harm—to themselves and/or their children.
Hide assets. As I have discussed at length in earlier blog posts (see 21 Signs That Your Husband May Be Hiding Marital Assets During Your Divorce and Divorcing Women: Here’s Where Husbands Typically Hide Assets), hiding assets during a divorce is sneaky, unethical and illegal –but it happens much more frequently than most women expect.
Fail to pay court-ordered support or refuse to relinquish assets. Husbands who don’t follow court orders are breaking the law –and they force their wives to try to extract the promised payments at considerable legal cost long after the divorce is over. What’s more, all this financial and legal wrangling is terribly time-consuming. Some women have to take time off from work to deal with these issues, and that can put their jobs in jeopardy. Sadly, many family courts do a poor job enforcing such orders, even when a woman follows its requirements to the letter, and even for a well-meaning judge, deception on the part of an ex-husband can be difficult to decipher or prove.
Because there are so many different dirty tricks, I recommend that women maintain their own emergency fund in a separate bank account, even if divorce has never entered their minds. If you are contemplating divorce, make sure you start organizing your personal finances and important documents under the guidance of a qualified divorce financial strategist. During the divorce, you’ll need to Think Financially, Not Emotionally®so you can keep your finances intact while planning for a secure financial future.
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Jeffrey A. Landers, CDFA™ is a Divorce Financial Strategist™ and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC (http://www.BedrockDivorce.com), a national divorce financial strategy firm that exclusively works with women, who are going through, or might be going through, a financially complicated divorce. He also advises women business owners on what steps they can take now to "divorce-proof" their business in the event of a future divorce. He can be reached at Landers@BedrockDivorce.com.
All articles/blog posts are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, retain a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney.
Follow Jeffrey A. Landers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Bedrock Divorce
Jeff is also the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, a divorce financial advisory firm that works exclusively with women throughout the United States, and ThinkFinancially.com, a website created to educate, empower and support women before, during and after divorce.
He writes a weekly blog for Forbes.com on the financial aspects of divorce for women called Divorce Dollars and Sense and contributes articles regularly to The Huffington Post, More.com, Lawyers.com and many others.
Jeff has also been extensively interviewed about the financial aspects of divorce by CBS and Fox Television News and such prestigious publications as The Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Dow Jones, Smart Money, Consumer Reports, The Christian Science Monitor and many others.
Jeff earned his BA degree in psychology from Columbia University and studied law at Pace University School of Law before becoming a divorce financial advisor.
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