In the two previous posts I’ve covered the prenuptial agreement for the high asset couple (which can apply even to those of somewhat lesser means) and a common complaint heard from wives of successful men.
(While I do prefer to represent the husband in a divorce, I did not mean my last post “The Skullery Maid” to be construed that I am a misogynist in any way—I was raised in a single parent home by my mother, who worked hard to raise 3 boys by herself with no help)
It is just that the claim by a wife of a successful man that she is a “scullery maid” simply does not ring true, when, in my experience, she most likely has, and does, more than 95% of the women in the entire world.
That being said, let’s talk about when “the fur starts flying.”
There can be, of course, many causes of this initiation of marital fireworks and legal blitzkrieg, and it can be the fault of either party. It can originate from a sudden (or suddenly discovered) event, or it can have its genesis in a slow burn over a period of years.
Each case is different, but common themes run through such marital earthquakes. Let’s look at a few:
- Money, or lack thereof
- Insanity (in its many forms)
If the parties separate and are living apart, it is usually a race to the courthouse for the filing of the divorce which, invariably involves asking the court for a temporary hearing to deal with such issues as who gets temporary possession of the house, a car or cars, temporary alimony and child support and freezing assets.
If the parties continue inhabiting the same home once the divorce is filed, a conundrum arises because the issues just discussed are determined (supposedly) in the context of a hearing where fault is not discussed (that comes at the final divorce hearing).
The temporary hearing can cause many difficulties for the husband in either situation.
For example, he may be required to leave the marital home, find a place to live, pay all the usual costs of supporting himself as well as supporting the (usually) unemployed wife, paying child support and all the debts of the parties, which would include the mortgage and other substantial debts.
Not an enviable situation. But, in the high-asset divorce, this situation may be one that the husband just has to live with for a while.
From the wife’s point of view, possession of the home, of a car and support for herself and the children of the parties is, obviously, a necessity, since she in many cases has no independent income of her own and equity holds that pending a final hearing of the divorce she should not be starved into submission.
And, of course, there is the matter of attorney’s fees.
Unless the wife has her own estate (read: her own money) then the husband may be, and probably will be required to contribute to, or pay in their entirety, the wife’s attorney while all this goes on.
Of course, all this can be the subject of negotiation and many times it is negotiated successfully.
When it is not, then the temporary hearing is one in which the judge must balance the equities and try to make a determination to fix the “status quo” and decide all these issues.
Obviously, the respective financial situations of the parties come into play.
For the husband of significant financial means (assets in his name and income over which he has sole control) the temporary hearing and its result will be “uncomfortable” to say the least, and “outrageous” on occasion.
An example: let’s say the husband discovers that his wife is having an affair.
Well, just how does he discover that?
- Caught in the act?
- Told by a friend?
- Suspicious calls after midnight?
- Going to “choir practice” when there’s no choir practice that night?
Remember, at the “temporary” hearing, none of this comes into play.
Fault is, technically, not to be discussed.
Even if the husband is convinced (“do you believe me or your lying eyes?”) of his wife’s infidelity…it’s “So, what?”
“That’s not what we’re here for,” says the Judge. (However, if the husband filed first and lists adultery as a ground for divorce, surely the Judge will have read the file and have some idea of what this is all about.)
Can the outcome of a temporary hearing be favorable to the husband?
Yes, of course, but difficult to achieve if the wife does not have a separate estate (money of her own) but there can be objectives which can be achieved to alleviate the pain until the final hearing—such as, for the business owner, continuation of his business and cash flow uninterrupted by the divorce proceedings and continuation and completion of business deals, if any in the works or contemplated, pending the final hearing of the divorce.
After the temporary hearing, there is much to be done, in anticipation of and during the final hearing, both on proving or defending alleged grounds for divorce and preserving, for the husband, what he has worked long and hard for and for the wife, much the same—obtaining an equitable division of the marital property and such support as she may need, if she can get back into the work-force or even in the event she cannot.
In any event, when “the fur starts flying” it is wise to obtain the best divorce lawyer possible to see that you’re not “skinned” from the start.