Sleepless in Divorce: The chapters that were never made into a movie – Chapter 5

Melody Z. RichardsonCustody, Divorce, Divorce Process, Melody Richardson

Georgia Divorce Attorneys | Richardson, Bloom, & Lines

Read Chapter 1
Read Chapter 2
Read Chapter 3
Read Chapter 4

Sam had provided all of the discovery responses, and the depositions had been completed. From Sam’s testimony at his deposition, I learned what Sam perceived Annie’s flaws to be and how he thought she had contributed to the end of their marriage. Sam decided not to exercise his privilege against self-incrimination, and testified about his numerous affairs. Annie was extremely hurt learning that all of her suspicions had been correct. I also learned that Annie was self-medicating with alcohol for the last couple of years. We agreed we were ready for mediation and found a date that was convenient for everyone.

Annie and I met the day before mediation to discuss a realistic settlement agreement. Annie still wanted to punish Sam for his affairs, but I reminded her that if we had to have a trial and let the judge decide how the assets would be divided, even if we had the best day in court, she still would not get all of the assets. We decided to propose a 60/40 split of the couples’ multi-million dollar marital estate, with Annie getting 60%. Annie was not willing to consider anything less than that. We also agreed that because she had been out of the workforce for so long and that Sam earned just over a million dollars a year, that $10,000.00 per month alimony for eight years would be reasonable. Sam would retire in about eight years, and Annie would be eligible for Medicare then, so we thought that would be a good outcome.

When Sam and his attorney arrived in our offices for mediation, I sensed a shift in Sam’s attitude. As the day progressed and the mediator shuttled between the two rooms conveying settlement proposals, it became obvious that whatever guilt Sam had been feeling was now replaced by anger. Sam insisted that he be awarded the majority of the assets because, after all, he said, he was the one that had worked to earn all the money while Annie did nothing. Sam also refused to pay Annie alimony of more than $5,000.00 per month for five years. He declared that Annie would have no trouble finding a job to support herself.

Despite the mediator’s best efforts to get the parties to compromise, both Annie and Sam were stuck in their positions. After almost 10 hours, we agreed only to maintain the status quo. It was time to get ready for trial.

The next day, Annie and I discussed how to make the situation a little more uncomfortable for Sam to try to motivate him to settle. We decided to subpoena his current girlfriend and the other woman with whom he had an affair, sit them down together in our reception area, and bring them into the conference room one at a time to be deposed about their affairs. Sam failed to produce his cell phone bills and some credit card receipts, so we sent subpoenas to his cell phone provider and the credit card company seeking those documents.

Unfortunately, deposing all the former girlfriends only made Sam angrier. We did gain valuable information for trial, and almost had to call security when the women got out of control after comparing notes. We had already attended the 60-Day Status Conference, and we would be scheduled for trial at the upcoming 120-Day Status Conference. Annie’s family law team started preparing for trial and making sure we had everything we needed to present the best case possible. We received the credit card statements, and learned that Sam had spent a lot of money on his girlfriends over the years. Hopefully, that, along with Annie’s inability to find a job, would help sway the judge to award her a little more than half of the assets and the alimony Annie needed to be able to afford the house. Annie desperately wanted to keep the house so Jennifer and Jason would have a place to come home to during breaks from college or when Jonah came to visit with his new family. The mortgage, property taxes, and upkeep on the house were pretty steep, but we worked with a financial expert and figured out a way to make it work if Annie could get enough alimony. Still, Annie knew she would be “house poor” if she kept the house.