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Man hires wife an attorney for divorce, things go south quickly

One aspect of divorce that many Seattle residents may not be aware of is the process by which the splitting spouses obtain their attorneys, and the dirty tactics that can be used during this process. When a married couple decides to get a divorce, the spouses take to the phones and the internet to find an attorney. Some of their meetings and calls may not go well; but eventually they find the right lawyer to represent and advise them during their divorce proceedings.

Here's the thing: every time you consult with an attorney, even if you don't use him or her, it bars the attorney from representing your soon-to-be-ex. It would be a conflict of interest, and it could result in a legal challenge to the divorce if one of the spouses used an attorney that was already approached by his or her spouse. This can also result in some shady tactics by a divorcing spouse, who consults with as many attorneys in the local area as he or she can, making it difficult for their spouse to find representation.

This rule is very important though -- and if you need an example, listen to this bizarre high asset divorce in Tennessee.

A woman and her husband completed their divorce in late 2011. The timing here is important: throughout their divorce, the husband wanted the split complete by December 27, 2011. On that day, his shares in an ethanol company would become dramatically more valuable; and two days after that date, a change in ethanol import/export law would make these companies even more valuable. The husband declared during the divorce that his stake in the company was $15 million. His wife got $6.8 million. The divorce was complete by the December 27 deadline.

Soon after the divorce was complete, the man sold his stake in the company for $100 million.

So where does the conflict of interest with divorce attorneys come in? As it turns out, the man hired an attorney for his wife -- and she alleges that he paid the attorney a substantial bonus to ensure the divorce was complete by the deadline. The woman is suing her ex-husband to void the divorce, alleging fraud and breach of contract.

Source: The Tennessean, "Williamson woman says ex sped up divorce, then sold $100M company," Bobby Allyn, July 31, 2013

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