Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Divorce Expert!

This is simply a follow-up on my earlier posts about appearing as an expert witness in a recent divorce proceeding.

When you've been married to ONE woman for 44 years it is a stretch to call yourself a "divorce expert" but in a sense I am, or at least I play one on TV.

I recently returned from a divorce proceeding that lasted three grueling days and involved 15witnesses, including four "expert" witnesses. I was one of those "experts" and I was one of three testifying as to the value of one of the largest assets (the printing company) owned by the couple. This asset, like all others, had to be valued and ultimately divided between the husband and wife. based upon the findings of the judge called to hear the cae.

I estimated that the three "business valuation" expert witnesses alone were costing the two plaintiffs in the case almost $5,000 per day, and these experts were required to be on hand throughout the three days of testimony, just so they could refute, if necessary, something said by the other expert.

That's about $15,000 in direct, out-of-pocket expenses for the witnesses alone... that doesn't include, as in my case, travel and lodging expenses, and it certainly doesn't begin to cover the costs of the three lawyers involved in the case.... or the judge's fees, or the court reporter's fees, etc. To the best of my knowledge, every single witness, expert or not, was being paid by one side or the other to appear at the trial.

My God, the binders used by the lawyers containing depositions, expert reports, real estate valuations and a myriad of other legal documents measured a minimum of 6" thick... they were the largest 3-ring binders I have ever seen!

I estimated that this divorce proceeding will easily end up costing at least $125,000 between the two parties. The sad thing is that the difference in the valuations of the business prepared by the two opposing sides was less than $150,000!

So here we found ourselves in a situation where, as usual, the only ones who are really winning anything are the lawyers..... this couple will easily end up spending $125,000 when had they just agreed to split the difference in the two valuations they could have saved at least $50,000 in legal fees. I guess that is just to simply a solution.

Oh well, I could write pages and pages about this stuff, but suffice it to say, you can't start early enough in a marriage before you agree in a method for valuing your printing business. Agreeing on a method now, even if for no other reason than for estate planning purposes, could easily save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.

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