There’s a New Four-Letter Word in Divorce-Attorney’s “F-E-E-S”
Written by: Stefano Ceroni
Seemingly, one cannot go through a divorce proceeding these days without one party threatening the other with the new four-letter word in divorce–Attorney’s “F-E-E-S”. As a result, how much money your spouse chooses to spend on his or her own attorney may one day come back to bite you. “Why” might you ask? Well, according to Arizona law, a party may seek reimbursement for the cost of his or her own divorce-attorney’s fees if the opposing party in the proceeding acted in an unreasonable manner.
Well, what’s wrong with that? It seems fair to me. The problem is, more often than not, each party usually feels that the other side is the one acting unreasonable and thus, should be the one to pay for the divorce-attorney’s fees. As a result, what do you get? Usually, just a back-and-forth onslaught of letters threatening the other party with a request for payment of the divorce-attorney’s fees.
What usually happens? Often, both parties wind-up spending more money trying to prove the other’s unreasonableness than they actually ever receive. Why? Here’s a news flash, what you think is unreasonable behavior by your ex usually doesn’t meet the burden of proof which the court requires. Trust me, I know, your ex’s refusal to let you keep the spare Dustbuster is unreasonable. I get it. Most people would rather fight tooth and nail to see their ex lose than to actually see themselves win.
Second news flash; there is never a clear winner or loser when it comes to a contentious divorce. Well, let me clarify that. Yes, there are losers. Anytime children are involved in a high-conflict divorce that places them at the middle of your conflict, they lose. There are, however, winners. Those couples who are willing to sit down with each other and reach a workable solution for the betterment of their lives…they are the winners.
Everyone else? Well, they usually end up in limbo: bankrupt, angry, resentful and unsatisfied. But hey, at least they got reimbursed for five billable hours of attorney’s fees, right? WRONG!
So, before you start the game off on the wrong foot by acting unreasonably yourself or by prematurely jumping to the conclusion that you are the only reasonable person in the room, get some perspective. Before you use the new four-letter word in divorce – attorney’s “fees”, look at your life now and what it could be when all of the dust settles. If the grass is greener, do yourself a favor and watch your language