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New trial date has been set

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little turtle posted 9/11/2020 13:52 PM

Sounds like her boss couldn't have helped you out more!!

99problems posted 9/11/2020 22:15 PM

Good job sticking this out. I am hoping that you get what you need and that your Stbx will go away and leave you alone.

barcher144 posted 9/12/2020 18:00 PM

I assume that opposing counsel was present at the deposition, which is customary. If that is the case, I would imagine that you have given the other side a compelling reason to settle vs. having the judge determine the outcome. That would be the optimal outcome, I would think.

You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?

The problem is that opposing counsel is as crazy as her client. I am not joking (and I am sure that you, Cat, will think that I am exaggerating but I am not). Opposing counsel is one of the most abrasive and annoying people that I have ever met. I have spoken to a dozen family law attorneys in the past two years (my 3 attorneys, plus others that I met/spoke to for an initial consult) and she is universally despised. She is literally a pariah.

I had a meeting on Friday morning with our "expert witness" (i.e., a CPA and financial litigation consultant) and we went through the math regarding child support and alimony. To equalize our cash flows (a decent first-guess at where we should be settling and/or the judge will rule) assuming her full-time equivalent salary, I would need to pay less than what I will be paying for child support. And, with her full-time salary equivalent being computed, I will be paying less than any offer that I have made in the past... definitely less than the last offer that we made in February where they basically told us to "stick it" and they refused to counter-offer and said "see you at trial."

The CPA also did some cash flow analysis based on the judge's temporary ruling from last June and it demonstrates how one-sided that ruling was. STBXW has had a cash flow almost double mine, while being voluntarily underemployed while I have been working my normal full-time job (which has historically involved me to working 11 hour days on a regular basis, according to STBXW's affidavit to the court) plus a part-time job to help meet my expenses.

This latter analysis by the CPA is important because STBXW is claiming that she has a financial hardship (somehow?) and that I need to pay her attorney's fees. Forgetting that STBXW got half of my retirement account (~$300,000, which she can convert to cash without any penalty beyond paying normal income tax) and that she got the house with ~$150,000 of equity in it (which she MUST re-finance and current interest rates are less than 3%).

That's all good news but none of it means anything until we go to court.

The final remaining issue is the tax exemptions that the kids provide. She is demanding all three kids. That just gives you an idea of how unreasonable they are.

And to be honest, this is not a complicated divorce. I have a narcissistic STBXW who has hired a narcissistic attorney. They have asked for 70-90% of our assets, the law be damned, and they have complained that I have refused to compromise because I have refused to budge from my initial offer to split everything 50-50%. My first two attorneys did not handle the bluster very well (the first backed down, the second couldn't be bothered to pay attention to my case), but in the end... divorces are simple... you split everything in half and you move on.

One final snarky comment. STBXW was ready to go back to work full-time when we decided to get divorced. Her attorney advised her not to do that (which she stupidly told me) because it would reduce her windfall in terms of alimony and child support. If the judge agrees with our analysis (and if he doesn't, we will appeal... the law in my state is 100% clear on this), then her attorney has cost her > $20,000 in income in addition to her attorney fees. Great lawyer, yes?

[This message edited by barcher144 at 6:00 PM, September 12th (Saturday)]

ff4152 posted 9/12/2020 18:20 PM

Barcher

Suffice to say, ITS ABOUT GODAMN TIME YOU GOT SOME GOOD NEWS!

I hope and pray it continues!

barcher144 posted 9/13/2020 08:54 AM

Thanks ff4152.

Yes, it's been a difficult time.

barcher144 posted 9/17/2020 08:03 AM

I just had a happy thought. I have been referring to her as "STBXW" for almost two years. There is nothing "soon" about a 2-year divorce. But, I am now, literally, within 3 months of being legally single again.

Oh... this feels so much better.

Mini-update: Exhibits and witness lists need to be submitted to the court today. We are 100% ready for that. Apparently, after trial, my lawyer needs to submit a document that simulates how she thinks that the judge should rule. My guess is that it forms a template for the judge so that he can cut and paste to make his decisions. My attorney even has a full draft of that document, so yeah... we're ready.

I have to say that our arguments are very strong. They are mathematical; it's hard to bullshit your way past math.

[This message edited by barcher144 at 8:03 AM, September 17th (Thursday)]

ZenMumWalking posted 9/17/2020 12:15 PM

Exhibits and witness lists need to be submitted to the court today.

Any chance NPD loony tunes (S!!)TBXWW and L will comply??

barcher144 posted 9/18/2020 10:34 AM

Any chance NPD loony tunes (S!!)TBXWW and L will comply??

The chance is pretty good. The lawyer, while evil and socially abrasive, is definitely competent and intelligent.

They are going to show up being very loud, making all sorts of accusations that I am lying and hiding money and a wife-beater (although, the remaining issues all fall under "no fault" divorce). Unless they manufacture evidence again, they should have nothing but hot air considering that I am not lying or hiding money.

My girlfriend suggests that my trial will result in "judicial shock", meaning the judge will be surprised by how one-sided his previous decision has been. I am hoping this to be the case and that he rules quickly.

Catwoman posted 9/18/2020 11:54 AM

My girlfriend suggests that my trial will result in "judicial shock", meaning the judge will be surprised by how one-sided his previous decision has been.

Judges rarely flip themselves, so be prepared for this.

With regards to hiding money, if they were truly concerned about it, they could have hired a forensic accountant, which, as far as what you have said, has not happened.

How many days did they book for trial?

Cat

barcher144 posted 9/18/2020 13:03 PM

Judges rarely flip themselves, so be prepared for this.

You're always a ray of sunshine and optimism, aren't you? You can see the cloud around any silver lining.

Regardless, the judge literally has no choice in this case. He made two rulings at the temporary hearing that contradict each other. Of those two rulings (i.e., the one that was not favorable to me), one is literally a violation of established case law, meaning if he sticks to it... we'll go for an appeal.

My attorney has already given me an estimate of the cost an appeal. She doesn't trust this judge... she has no experience with him, but his temporary ruling was so ridiculously one-sided that she wonders what is wrong with him. My excuse (for the judge) is that my legal counsel was miserably bad; my attorney disagrees. To give you an idea, right now my net monthly cash flow is about $3000 per month, whereas hers is $6500 per month. A good rule of thumb is that cash flows should match each other, according to my attorney, worst case scenario.

With regards to hiding money, if they were truly concerned about it, they could have hired a forensic accountant, which, as far as what you have said, has not happened.

Correct. They aren't truly concerned. My STBXW knows that I am completely honest and a straight-shooter. Virtually all of their disparaging comments are projection; they are complaining that I might be doing what they are actually doing. I think that STBXW's attorney is genuinely entertained by disparaging me (based on posts from her Facebook page, she hates men).

How many days did they book for trial?

One.

Luckily, I think that we have been able to trim back our case so that one day is feasible, otherwise we will have to book a second day... probably in a month or two.

The first two issues are child support and alimony, which primarily depends on determining her income and on determining my income.

STBXW will argue that my income should be based on previous years' income, which included a lot of extra pay. This is where I hope the judge sticks to his previous ruling because he basically ruled that a portion of my income should be considered "overtime" and not to be included in the computation of my income. We feel very confident in a favorable ruling on this because I literally did not receive this extra income this year and I am not likely to receive it for the next 3 years (minimum); also, I received a COVID-caused pay cut in my regular salary. We are going to argue that STBXW is voluntarily underemployed, for which we have very strong evidence (her past written statements plus those of her boss).

Even so, unless the judge rules BOTH that she is not voluntarily underemployed and that my income should be computed based on past income that includes non-mandatory overtime (rather than my current income, which only includes about half of the non-mandatory overtime that I had in the past)... there is no way that I will be paying alimony. That is, the range of values of child support ($1700 to $1900 per month) will give STBXW a greater cash flow than me without any alimony. This is where the CPA/expert witness will earn his money, explaining all of this to the court.

The third issue is tax exemptions. We have three kids and they want all three exemptions. We think that sharing the exemptions is fair and lawful. I don't see how a judge will rule against me on this one, but hey it might happen.

The fourth issue is attorney's fees. STBXW is claiming financial hardship, which will be tough given that the house that she received in the divorce includes about $150,000 in equity (easily; we had it appraised 18 months ago... it's probably worth even more right now) and $300,000 in funds from my retirement account. Both of these amounts are easily converted to cash, because she must refinance the house (a condition of our partial divorce agreement that is already signed and approved by the court). In addition, she can convert my retirement to cash, without penalty beyond normal income tax. Assuming a 40% tax rate on my retirement, that's $180,000... so she easy access to more than $300,000 in cash. In addition, recall that her net cash flow has been more than double mine for the past 16 months.

There you go Cat: my case in a nutshell. Please go ahead and explain to me how I am wrong and how you are right.

Catwoman posted 9/18/2020 13:18 PM

There you go Cat: my case in a nutshell. Please go ahead and explain to me how I am wrong and how you are right.

I didn't say I was right.

I did say that judges don't often flip themselves (note I didn't say never). I have a long-time friend who is a Superior Court judge (and has been for decades), and my SO has been practicing law (he is a litigation attorney) for more than 35 years. Maybe it will be that way in your case, maybe not. I just pointed to being prepared, which isn't a bad idea no matter how strong you think your case is. Judges are human, after all. I think your STBXW is nuts for hinging everything on a trial, as no one has any indication as to how it will go.

I would talk to your attorney about the tax exemption situation, specifically how it is structured once your older children start to age out of becoming tax deductions (not sure what age/situation that is in your state). I encourage the wording of any ruling for anything to be shared to be based on odd/even tax years, vs. alternating years as this way there is NO arguing what is supposed to happen year over year. I wouldn't leave anything to chance or subject to "interpretation" given your situation.

Cat

barcher144 posted 9/19/2020 06:19 AM

More updates. Witness lists and exhibits were submitted to the court on Thursday.

STBXW's witness includes her and only her. My witness list includes me, my tax guy/CPA expert witness, and the HR person from my job.

STBXW submitted all of her bank statements and a bunch of my bank statements as exhibits. I don't know how STBXW got my bank statements. My best guess, right now, is that she went diving into my recycling bin when I put that out to the curb every-other-week. It's also possible that my attorney gave them to her, but I don't remember sending them to my attorney. It is also possible that she asked my kids to take them, but I don't think that's likely.

One interesting thing about her bank statements is that she has essentially saved about $7,000 since she and I split. This is on top of paying for the custody evaluation and some other legal fees out of her checking account (she including these checks as exhibits). She also apparently spent $2000 on the dog. Even with all of this, if you look at all of her expenses, she has averaged about $6000 per month in outgoing expenses (including the dog and the legal bills), which is substantially less than the $8000 per month that she is claiming as her budget.

One interesting thing about her submitting my bank statements as exhibits is they provide undeniable evidence that I have been paying for her car insurance since we separated. They also show they I have been paying a much bigger cell phone bill than her, which is odd because she has claimed and continues to claim that she is paying for the cell phones for both of our daughters.

She also included a check to the custody evaluator (for writing the final report) as one of her expenses. Because the evaluator did not write this final report, this amount was refunded to her. That is, she included a false expense as one of her exhibits.

To summarize:

STBXW seems to be spending about $6000 per month and saving $400 per month, while she works part-time and I work my regular job plus overtime plus a third job.

Her actual savings rate (I haven't computed this yet) is probably closer to $750 per month because some of her expenses are legal bills.

If she goes back to work full time, her net income would increase by about $1000 per month. If you add her savings rate and the increased pay that she would receive from working full time together, you get $1400. We are asking the judge to reduce my monthly payment by $1400 to $1500 per month. Her own exhibits suggest that she can meet her expenses, as they are, with what we are proposing.

She is claiming that she has a financial hardship with $12,000 sitting in her checking account. This is on top of the $300,000 (pre tax) that she is about to get from the splitting of my retirement account that she can easily turn into cash (assume 40% tax rate, this is $180,000 cash). She also has about $150,000 in equity in the house that she got (post-tax), which she can access when she refinances the house as she is required to do. (also, when she refinances, she can cover all of her legal expenses and still reduce her monthly payment because interest rates are so low right now).

I still can't wrap my brain around her attorney's logic for their case.

barcher144 posted 9/19/2020 06:29 AM

I have a long-time friend who is a Superior Court judge (and has been for decades), and my SO has been practicing law (he is a litigation attorney) for more than 35 years.

So this makes you a legal expert?

I would talk to your attorney about the tax exemption situation

What gives you the idea that I haven't?

It's simple really. You basically work out a schedule for who gets which kid each year so that it is even. The schedule changes out a bit as the kids emancipate, but it isn't complicated.

ZenMumWalking posted 9/19/2020 09:34 AM

Seems air-tight barcher, crossing my fingers that it all goes your way.

barcher144 posted 9/20/2020 10:37 AM

Seems air-tight barcher, crossing my fingers that it all goes your way.

Nothing seems air-tight from my perspective. I have gotten screwed from day 1 in all of this and I am fully ready for it to continue (hope for the best, prepare for the worst).

My GF is already making financial plans to appeal the judge's decision, which is how confident that we are that he will give a fair ruling. For some reason (she's a full-on codependent), she thinks that I will let her pay for the appeal. More likely, I'll just give up. I'm broke and sinking into crazy amounts of debt with these legal bills. The first rule of getting out of a hole is to quit digging.

Catwoman posted 9/20/2020 18:36 PM

So this makes you a legal expert?

No, but being around the law all my life (my late father prosecuted murder cases for a living), plus more than 4 years working at the courthouse has given me quite a bit of familiarity with the law, the process and how things work. And my friend the judge? His grandfather, father and uncle were all judges (his father was an appellate court judge). I would say he knows his way around the law forwards and backwards, aside from being a really great guy.

STBXW submitted all of her bank statements and a bunch of my bank statements as exhibits. I don't know how STBXW got my bank statements. My best guess, right now, is that she went diving into my recycling bin when I put that out to the curb every-other-week.

Do you really believe this? And for someone who purports to be very cautious and buttoned-up, do you put your bank statements whole in the recycling bin? And do you think she's hanging about and going through your recyclables? Seriously? I guess if she knows you are careless enough to put them out in their entirety in the recyclables, she could spend every other week sorting through that. There is case law that has determined (in several states) that once garbage (and I assume recycling) is put out at the curb, it is not protected as private property and is fair game.

It's also possible that my attorney gave them to her, but I don't remember sending them to my attorney.

Bank statements are often requested during discovery and I would guess that this is where she received them. Do you not keep a record of what was requested and what was provided during discovery?

It is also possible that she asked my kids to take them, but I don't think that's likely.

I would fervently hope this isn't the case, but if it is, it is 100% parental alienation.

It's simple really. You basically work out a schedule for who gets which kid each year so that it is even.

You totally missed my point. If you are indeed dealing with a narcissist, as you allege, you need to have things nailed down in such a way that there is no wiggle room. That is why I suggested making it odd/even tax years and nailing down what happens as your children age out of being deductions. She can also claim head of household, which is a huge tax advantage, so you would want to offset that, I would think. If she can claim the children advantageously AND file as head of household, that gives her a huge tax advantage that you would not have. I hope you have discussed this with your attorney and have a decent argument and proposal to present to the judge.

Cat

barcher144 posted 9/21/2020 10:31 AM

No, but being around the law all my life (my late father prosecuted murder cases for a living), plus more than 4 years working at the courthouse has given me quite a bit of familiarity with the law, the process and how things work. And my friend the judge? His grandfather, father and uncle were all judges (his father was an appellate court judge). I would say he knows his way around the law forwards and backwards, aside from being a really great guy.

So, you know people who have family members who know the law. That improves your legal credentials?

I get crap like this from my mother, who serves as a child advocate in her state (not my state). Laws vary substantially from state to state. I would conclude that your advice is not helpful for me in my state, except that I am sure that your best friends' cousin's college roommate has an uncle who was a prosecuting attorney in my state in the 1970s. So, yeah, you're qualified.

Do you really believe this?

Actually, yes, I did believe that. I believed this because I did not recall that I submitted my bank statements to my attorney in February. After searching my emails yesterday, I found this out.

I am also very much aware that the courts have ruled that anything abandoned is 'fair game' as far as cases like this. Meaning, recycling and trash put out at the curb is legal.

This case has been going on for two years. It's reasonable that I forgot sending my attorney my bank statements six months ago. They were included in an email that included another 30 or so documents, so it was easy to forget.

Also, I was not careful with my bank statements because there is nothing in there that I am worried about STBXW discovering. I get paid. I pay my bills. The end.

Related to this, my bank statements help our case. STBXW is claiming that I owe her money because I didn't give her half of the stimulus check sent to us in May. I did so, as I explained via email (which she also included as an exhibit) that she was refusing to pay for our girls' cell phones, her car insurance, etc. My bank statements show that I was paying these expenses. So, I have that going for me, which is nice.

You totally missed my point.

Actually, you miss my point. I am not a moron. My attorney is not a moron. We know to nail this down specifically. STBXW received two of the child credits in 2019, so we are asking that I get two of the tax credits starting this year and then we alternate until my oldest emancipates. After that, we have two years in which we each have one child... and then after that, we are back to alternating for 4 or 5 years.

I mean, my attorney went to law school, has 25 years experience as a family law attorney, and she has even won a couple of awards... but none of her family members were lawyers or judges, so she doesn't know what she is doing.

barcher144 posted 9/22/2020 09:03 AM

I am using this thread for venting and just letting my thoughts out, which most of you have figured out.

When I arrived at work today, I had a weird thought after seeing STBXW's exhibits and witness list. They are not even trying to put together a case... they have included no calculations for child support and they have included no calculations for alimony as far as what she wants/needs and what they think that I can afford.

This is really, really weird.

I know that her attorney is a shitty person, based on how she has treated me and all three of my attorneys (as well as her reputation, as suggested by all of the other attorneys that I have interviewed). But, I think not think that her attorney was a shitty attorney until today... maybe that is what it comes down to...

Tigersrule77 posted 9/22/2020 09:26 AM

barcher, based on the information you have provided, they cannot provide calculations that would establish her need for alimony and CS, so why submit paperwork that would prove YOUR case? They are probably better off pretending it doesn't exist and they can TRY to argue that the standard calculations shouldn't apply. Your STBXWW's attorney will probably point to the previous order to establish what CS should be, even thought that ignores that established guidelines.

I believe it is a calculated move, as they can't establish that her claims are valid. I'm sure they have a plan, but there is no reason to believe it will work. It has a better shot though if they don't acknowledge from the start that they are ignoring those guidelines and making up what they want it to be.

Catwoman posted 9/22/2020 09:28 AM

To date, opposing counsel has been effective, so I wouldn't discount anything at this stage of the game. She may be abrasive, but she obviously is getting results, at least where your STBXW is concerned.

They may have been waiting for you and your attorney to show their hand.

Who knows--guess you'll find out soon.

Cat

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