Divorce War{2:10 minutes to read} It was a beautiful day: the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was with a husband and wife who were very cordial and pleasant—until we began discussing money. That’s when things started going downhill really fast.

The husband had an idea about how to divide their marital assets. His plan was to keep most of the money and put his soon-to-be ex-wife on an allowance—“you know, the same way we did it during our marriage.” If he was doing well in any particular year, he would give her more money. He would always do the right thing and insisted that this didn’t need to be in writing. She should just have faith in him, and everything would be fine.

I explained that it doesn’t exactly work that way. The presumption is that, from the date of the marriage, everything is considered marital property and is usually divided 50/50. The theory is that marriage is an economic partnership, as well as an emotional partnership.

That, however, was not his thinking. He said, “I deserve more of the money, and if my wife won’t agree to that in mediation, I’ll hire an attorney and she’ll be sorry.

I asked him what he meant by sorry, because I speak to divorce attorneys every week, and I know the cost of retaining a lawyer in Westchester is $10,000–$15,000. If you’re going to ultimately divide things in half and use the formulas to figure out child support and alimony, why would you want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to litigate? His response was that mediation wasn’t going to give him what he wanted, but litigation would.

So, what am I missing here?

After years of mediating divorces, I still see clients who aren’t willing to spend $5,000–$6,000 in mediation but have no problem paying a divorce attorney a $15,000 retainer to begin litigation. Ultimately, in both mediation and litigation, since marital assets are likely to be divided in half, I don’t understand what satisfaction clients get from litigating their divorce. The end product is usually a really expensive divorce that divides their assets in half.

So why pursue litigation?

Ultimately, it’s your choice to mediate or litigate, but let’s go back to high school math for a moment.

Example: John and Mary investigate the cost of divorce. The cost of litigation is between $30,000 and $200,000, and marital assets are likely to be divided in half. The cost of a mediated divorce is between $5,000 and $6,000, and marital assets are likely to be divided in half.

Which choice will leave John and Mary with more money in their bank account?

  1. Litigation
  2. Mediation

About Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov Your Divorce Mediator Westchester County, NY Putnam County, NY Phone: (914) 588-6258 eMail: Info@YourDivorceMediator.com