This week, I was surprised by an opposing lawyer. I was in a Rhode Island Divorce Court for a conference with the Judge and the Wife's attorney. The wife's attorney had filed a Motion for support for an adult child of the marriage. He said that his client had told him that the adult daughter lived with her, was not currently working, that she had a brain tumor when she was a young child and the wife wanted support for this child from my client, the husband. I had to inform him that the child was over the age of 18, and had graduated college, worked a couple of part-time jobs and was currently actively seeking employment. He had failed to get that information from his client.
I had sent a written proposal to the other attorney to settle this same case suggesting an equal split of the retirement assets acquired by both parties during the marriage (she had an IRA and an employer-sponsored 401(k) while he had an IRA and no employer-sponsored plan). I proposed that the valuation date would be the date we put the marriage through. He counter-proposed that the valuation date be two years earlier, thus reducing the 401(k) to be divided by close to $26,000. My position was supported by Supreme Court cases.
In our conference, the Court did not support the wife's wishes. As the other attorney did not agree and tried to suggest otherwise, this matter was scheduled weeks for mediation by a court mediator. Thus, a fairly simple matter has become expensive for both parties, based upon a failure to advise a client about her reasonable expectations. The Judge suggested that the mediator could tell the wife the law.
Today, clients often interview more than one Divorce Lawyer in Rhode Island. Clients often hire the attorneys who tell the client what he/she wants to hear instead of the realistic expectation based on the law and the lawyer's experience. Telling prospective clients only what they want to hear in order to have the client pay a fee often leads to a long and expensive divorce. Experienced and honest lawyers use their knowledge and expertise to advise their clients to have a more realistic outlook.