Home > divorce, family law general > Fighting over Stuff: Do you really want to Die on This Battlefield?

Fighting over Stuff: Do you really want to Die on This Battlefield?

**Note:  This particular post is contributed by a friend of mine who is in practice in Wyoming.  He’s been a lawyer for 10+ years now, and has seen an awful lot.  Hopefully he’ll be contributing more in the future as well.

Clients often ask, “how much is this going to cost me?”.  Most clients are not amused with my typical answer – It depends.

The cost of divorce litigation can be directly proportional to the emotional value one places on the material assets acquired during the marriage.

Look what he "won" in his divorce!

Most possessions a couple acquires during a marriage would either end up at the DI or sold for pennies on the dollar at a garage sale if the marriage would not have failed.

People faced with divorce situations tend to focus on items that have little or no value, rather than concern themselves with the well-being of their children or their own future well being. These people are hurt and they want to get “even”.  I have seen situations where clients have spent hundreds of dollars on attorneys fees fighting over a four year old barbeque set just because they did not want the other person to have it.  Not only is this a waste of valuable resources if your negotiations fail, you are likely to face the wrath of the judge if the matter goes to court.

Decide what things are important from the outset.  What do you need to get back on your feet?  What do you need to start your new life?  What can you live without?  These are questions that need to be answered early on in your divorce case.

If you and your spouse have agreed on a custody arrangement, then the division of certain assets should be according to who will have custody of the children.  Washers, dryers, beds and other items necessary to take care of children should stay with the party who has custody of the children.  If you are not going to have custody, then you shouldn’t spend the value of these items in attorneys fees trying to “fight for what is yours”.  You should try to work with the other side as much as possible to have an equitable distribution of the assets and debts.

I cannot tell you how often I have heard, “this is just ‘so and so’ winning again.”  Nobody is winning.  The best thing you can do for yourself and your children is to get out with the least amount of damage.  Things can be replaced.  Most of what you accumulated is just used “junk”.  Get over it.  Move on.

“What should I fight for then?  If everything is junk I might as well just walk out the door.”  Don’t take things to that extreme either.  Before you meet with your lawyer you should gather whatever information you can on your financial health.  What assets do you have?  What debts do you have?  Do you have the means to maintain assets?  Anything that has a payment, requires maintenance and insurance, and actually depreciates in value should be tossed out immediately.  The more information your lawyer has on your financial well being, the easier it will be for your lawyer to help guide you through the process.

“I want my lawyer to ‘fight’ for everything.”  If you have a lawyer who promises to “fight” for everything, you had better be prepared to pay for the fight.  Fight for what is right and fair.  Leave the rest behind.

**A little Illustration:  from “When Harry Met Sally”:  The Wagon Wheel Coffee Table scene.  Listen carefully.  Incorporate in your attitude toward your property settlement in your divorce.

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