“I’m so angry, and I’m terrified. It’s impossible for anyone to get a job in the newspaper business anymore, and I haven’t worked in 20 years. What am I going to do? And you know what else? Sam doesn’t even want a divorce. He wants us to go to counseling again.”
We talked a little bit about Nick Cannon’s freestyle rap, “Divorce Papers,” that all the tabloids were speculating was an ode to the divorce lawyers who allegedly cause most of the friction between divorcing spouses, and how Nick, not being ready for the divorce to be final, was slowing up the process of his divorce from Mariah Carey. It is likely, in my opinion, since Sam doesn’t want the divorce, that it may take some time for Sam to accept that the marriage is over and be ready to engage in the divorce process. I also discussed RBL Family Law’s philosophy that we do not create friction; to the contrary, we try very hard to keep conflict to a minimum.
Annie was in no mood to reduce conflict. She seemed out for blood because she was so hurt and angry. I gave Annie the names of several good therapists to help her work through those emotions, and suggested that hurt and anger in a divorce just make the process a lot more expensive. Annie needed to start feeling better about herself, and a therapist is the best professional to help her with that piece of the process.
The other suggestions I made to Annie were for us to try to work out with Sam and his attorneys the details of how things would be divided, who would live where, and how much support she would need, prior to actually filing for divorce. “That way,” I told her, “we can control the timing rather than being subject to the court’s timetable. Fulton County Superior Court has a Family Division, and once a divorce is filed, a 30-Day Status Conference will be scheduled. Once that conference is scheduled we either have to attend the status conference at the courthouse downtown or opt out, which requires the timely filing of the proper paperwork,” I explained. “I think that working with Sam and his attorneys prior to filing will help keep your attorneys’ fees down.” I also directed Annie to RBL Family Law’s blog on other ways to keep her attorneys’ fees down. Annie decided that she wanted to file the complaint for divorce as quickly as possible to show Sam she was serious.
At the end of our consultation, Annie seemed to be feeling much better. We reviewed our firm’s retainer agreement, and I answered all the questions she had about the agreement. Annie then signed the agreement, and paid her initial retainer so that we could start our work of helping her through this difficult time. I promised her that we would have an in-depth conversation about alimony after I had an opportunity to review financial documents. I handed her a folder with a copy of the signed retainer agreement and a document called a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (“DRFA”) to complete. The document shows all current assets, liabilities and monthly expenses. I asked her to start working on the DRFA as best she could. I told her our paralegal will be happy to help her with the DRFA if she has any questions, but that when it is done, I will review it to make sure it is accurate. I asked Annie if she had any further questions, and told her to call me or email me anytime if she thought of anything she failed to ask during our initial consultation.
Annie left feeling more empowered now that she understood the divorce process a little better, and, more importantly, less fearful about how she would survive this next chapter.