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Watch what you say in divorce proceedings

In high asset divorces, it comes as no surprise the lengths that divorcing parties go to harm each other. They may lodge disparaging comments against each other and may even attempt to sabotage property meant to be divided. However, the consequences seem to be lost on them. We find it appropriate to highlight a story where badmouthing cost a divorcing party a substantial amount of money.

According to an ABA Journal report, a partner in a high-powered New York law firm was victimized by his soon-to-be ex-wife who made disparaging comments about his willingness to pay for his daughter’s hearing aids.

Apparently, the dispute over paying medical expenses was driven out of context when she mentioned that he bought his new fiancée a $200,000 engagement ring. The story made its way to the Internet, and the attorney was featured as “Lawyer of the Month” on AboveTheLaw.com, which is a sarcastic designation dedicated to what is wrong about high-priced attorneys.

Because of this, the attorney essentially claimed that his reputation was damaged and that it hurt the value of his practice. A family law court agreed, explaining that negative publicity, even not directed towards the attorney’s professional attributes, could drive clients away. As such, the wife was awarded a smaller share of the practice.

In Nevada, family court judges have broad discretion to divide marital estates. This means that they have the power to make these types of decisions when a party commits waste or jeopardizes the value of a particular marital asset. The story should serve as a cautionary tale to those who are divorcing.

Source: ABA Journal.com “Ex-wife gets less in divorce of BigLaw partner because her badmouthing hurt rainmaking, judge says,” Debra Cassens Weiss, April 9, 2014

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