Several years ago we represented this particular guy of rather substantial
means in his divorce from his long term wife. She had caught him rather
red handed as he repeatedly stepped out with his lady friend. We talked
about it and he readily and thoroughly owned up to it. "Yes, I did
it," he admitted. When evaluating their assets he also provided a
detailed inventory which ranged into significant numbers.
We prepared our assessment. The wife's side prepared their assessment.
We all met.
Surprisingly, the two side's assessments were no where near the same.
It wasn't even in the same ballpark. To say that the wife was out
for blood would be putting it mildly. From the numbers we put up, she
wanted every ounce of blood, every pound of meat and most of his bones,
too. She didn't want a divorce. She wanted him dead.
We knew we had a lot more work to do, not the least of which was determining
the source and the reason for the extent of the wife's vitriol. Demanding
more than the guy made and owned, even when the wife wanted him dead,
is illogical. It forces a trial and is a guarranteed loser scenario because
the judge will never award more than the guy makes and holds. We knew
there was more to the story. We just didn't yet know what.
Much later and many thousands of dollars down the road, we were finally
able to glean the truth from the wife's attorney. He finally shared
the evidence he had been holding fast hoping for some magic moment for
revelation that would tear our world assunder. I don't think his conscience
got the better of him (he isn't known for that). The pressure of his
duty to disclose eventually became sufficient and his desire to not waste
time in a trial with his client (who was far less than pleasant) caused
him to cough up the source of the wife's anger and the demand for
Our guy hadn't just one other romance. He'd had at least five,
all around the same time. And he hadn't just the significant sums
he had disclosed and ardently maintained were the breadth and entirely
of his holdings and earnings, he had attempted to hide about half again
more in off-shore accounts and twice as much in diverted income.
We confronted our guy about this 11th hour surprise. "I didn't
think they'd find out," was his best reply. With photographs,
video, bank statements and credit card receipts, they'd found out, big time.
When you live with the enemy, expect them to spy on you. When you live
with the enemy, expect them to find out. When you live with the enemy,
there are no secrets left to keep. The wife was a good spy. Our guy was
a dim witted mark with a less than stellar moral compass.
The moral to the story? Hold nothing back
from your attorney, no matter how damaging you think it may be. Assume the other side knows
it all already. Your release of damaging information works so much better
coming from you than giving the other side that gift. Don't let them
manage your story, good or bad.
Always expect them to find out.