How much does a Connecticut divorce cost? Or better - how much should it cost?
Let's start by looking at a recent divorce case that went awry.
It was a divorce case of full of greed. Not unusual. But allegedly, the greedy parties in this case were not the divorcing spouses themselves but rather the attorneys who represented them.
The story goes something like this:
The Husband had a fortune estimated at nearly $100 million. The two divorce attorneys churned their files big time. Legal fees were over $7 million. That's egregious. Unfortunately, that's not the end of the saga. It gets worse.
On the first day of trial, the Husband's attorney moved for a mistrial. Mistrial granted. And supposedly, the mistrial was planned between the two lawyers so they could continue to rack up legal fees!
I find it hard to believe that two lawyers could have cooked up a scheme like this. Still, there must be something to it. The divorce lawyers have been sued for conspiracy.
To be clear this story does NOT involve Connecticut lawyers. Thankfully. However, it does provide an example of how things can go really wrong if you are not mindful about your legal fees.
I know of hotly contested divorce cases in Connecticut where the legal fees are in the hundreds of thousand dollars.
But I question whether a client actually gets a better result by paying an attorney that type of money.
For example, billing countless hours to review bank statements, read tax returns and look over credit card charges is shameful.
Equally bad is litigating motion after motion with very little corresponding benefit to the client. I have certain reservations about lawyers who are always on trial. Are they that busy or that unreasonable?
Retaining a lawyer is an investment. And in all but the rarest of cases, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a divorce seems to be a poor return on an investment.
Let's take a long-term marriage. Assuming there is no prenup or post nup, guess what the judge will do in virtually all of those cases?
Answer: equalize income and assets.
What will the lawyer who is charging hundreds of thousand of dollars do to change that? Claim that the spouses are, in fact, not married? Argue that the date of the marriage is incorrect? Allege that certain assets actually don't exist? Quarrel about appraised values? Dispute verifiable income?
Need proof? After spending $7 million in the first round in their divorce guess how much the couple in the "scam" case spent in the second round?
$80,000! That's right - just $80,000.
The result? Practically an equal split of the assets.
What a difference it makes when spouses retain attorneys who are more focused on settlement than legal fees.
The article about the purported divorce swindle appears below. Have a read. Decide for yourself whether it was a fleecing.