Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On Being Shafted in Public

So, I have been through the range of emotions since my very public humiliation of last week.

Here are the ways that it went down:

- Scheduled for Mediation last Wednesday with a Mediator

- Issued a Demand Letter on Sunday, establishing our position and why we felt it was fair

- Traveled 2,000 miles to the mediation location, rented a car, hotel, etc. Planned for day of prep, day of mediation and extra day if it went longer than expected. 5 days off work. Hotels, fees, etc.

- Mediator and lawyers for the day were approximately $1,000 hour - 8 hours = $8,000. With travel, $10,000. Lost earnings, $1,000. Lawyer prep 2 @ 4 hours = $2,000. Total cost expected around $13,000, plus day off of work.

- Wife lawyer does not prepare -- No demand, no explanation on Tuesday. Expected Wednesday morning before mediation commences.

- Wednesday, no letter. My lawyer has never seen this situation. and is concerned.

- They arrive at 9:00. Placed in a separate conference room. Lawyers meet with mediator. Her lawyer produces letter which is 4 pages of attacks on my character and really nasty.

- Mediation commences after we read letters.

- We are in different solar systems. They offer 10% of what we are asking to settle case.

- Slight improvement through rounds of negotiation. By noon, they are offering 25% of what we were originally seeking. We are down to 85%.

- Noon, they go to lunch. Her lawyer announces that he has appointment at 3:30 PM and will have to leave at that time. My lawyer can't believe it.

- I can't eat as I am afraid I will puke. 2 diet cokes (not a good idea)

- 3:15, we are at 40% offered. We are down to 75%.

- They leave. We decide not to counter their last offer because we are essentially bidding against ourselves.

- I ask my lawyers if they are upset by this disrespectful behavior. They ask me why I'm not more upset.

- I leave, go back to my hotel and completely lose it. Their behavior, the waste of money, the personal attacks and lack of food are too much.

- After an hour of sobbing, decide to get something to eat. Low blood sugar.

- Have to answer the goddam mobile and explain how it didn't work.

- Embarrassed, ashamed and very, very sad.

Lessons learned:

- Her lawyer is an asshole, but doing a great job. He got me off balance with the personal attacks and his strategy was brilliant -- go for an incredible low settlement number and they look like heros for coming up from the basement. Force us to show our hand first. Do a sneak attack on their offer and don't give us a chance to respond or consider it carefully in advance.

- We take the high road and estimated what the courts would settle out with and that was our opening. We should have taken that number and padded it with some form of giveaway that would make us look good and reconcile about where the courts would end up. Bad strategy. We started where we wanted to finish and offered continuous concessions, ending at approximately 80% of where we expect it to settle at trial.

- I had expectations that this process would be fair and that they wanted it to end. The lawyers are not motivated for that to happen. They are motivated (financially) by dragging this process out as long as possible at $250/hour.

- I had some hope that this would be it and we could go on with our lives. When that did't happen, I was shellshocked and very sad. I did bad "expectation management" on myself and should have considered any possible reconciliation through mediation as an unexpected benefit and not a certainty. Prepare for the worst and be surprised when it doesn't break that way. Don't hope for the best.

- My wife does not care about me or in any way honor our relationship. She wants to get out as cheaply as possible. This is a different person than I expected in the negotiations. I expected that the division of assets would be done with love and respect for the other person and to ensure that we both had a solid foundation form which to grow our respective futures. She wants all the pie and for me to go away with as little as possible.

- I am hopelessly naive.

- Try not to focus on the money. I have spent approximately $20,000 and Wednesday was another $13,000. That is $33,000 and the expectation is that trial prep will be an additional $25,000. That's close to $60,000 and I can only assume that her costs are similar. Assume $100,000 in legal costs which is more than she offered me in terms of the settlement. She would rather pay lawyers than me.

- Never underestimate the mean-ness of lesbians, especially when they are dealing with men.

- Don't forget to eat.

Needless to say, it was a long flight home of licking my wounds. Man, I need a drink.

Why did I ever get married?


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