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Getting Divorced? Spend That 401K Before The Lawyers and The Future Ex Do!

Updated on September 25, 2011

Spend That 401K before divorce if you can

So you've done it. Somehow you have gotten together thousands of dollars and retained a divorce attorney. Maybe you were like me and interviewed and called dozens, maybe you hired the first lawyer you found on Google.

What will your divorce lawyer do for you? Pretty much file paper work and bill you an ungodly amount of money per hour. In my case it was $290 an hour. I thought about that. At $290 an hour, my retainer would be depleted in just a couple of days charged time. Don't forget the lawyer will charge you for travel time, to and from the courthouse. The lawyer will charge you for each and every phone call. Have you got a question and think maybe the answer is simple? Send the lawyer an email? Think twice. That's chargeable time.

Court costs are not mentioned when the lawyer talks money with you. Mediation cost $120 an hour, paid for by both parties involved in the divorce. Basically the lawyer will do nothing for you other than follow the date of mediation and then show up. No preparation was done in my case. Even though I was filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, it was never mentioned. Seemed to me that I was on the defensive most of the time when I felt that I had done everything I could to try to save my family. My wife slept with men she met in bars. Could the lawyer at least bring something like this up. I had proof. I spoke to a man who admitted he slept with my wife. I wanted the lawyer to earn the money. Nope. Nothing. No guidance as to what would happen over the next several months. Just....I need a huge retainer. I hired my lawyer and 3 months later my retainer was gone. I'd like to know where $5,000 goes in 3 months and we still had not gone to court. I was now getting billed for another $1,000. How could I come up with that? I had borrowed against my 401K just to get the retainer. That was no longer an option.

About a month after the retainer was depleted I got 2 more bills. One of the bills had a memo inside telling me that the law firm could no longer represent me unless I "repleted" my retainer. Nice. Hire a lawyer with your life savings. A lawyer that told you she cared about your kids and knew what you were going through because she too was a product of divorce.

Now I have a letter telling me "We need $1000 or we are done with you". So much for integrity. I got the money. I ended up completely cashing out my 401K account and giving another $1700 of my life savings to a lawyer. I now knew, my lawyer never cared for me at all. She cared about dollars, and lots of em. She called me 2 days before Christmas last year. "about your bill, Oh yeah hows the kids". This is word for word. I will never forget the call. I was struggling to buy Christmas presents. I drove a piece of shit car that I bought at an auction for $650 and she needs $770. I told her "You'll get your money". I was in the process of trying to get a mortgage to save the home for the boys. I did say to her "right now you are not very high on the payment priority list" and then wished her a Merry Christmas and hung up.

A month went by and I got another letter from my attorney. Now she writes "unless this office receives full payment of $810 then the office would be forced to file the attached form at the local court. I looked at the attached document. It was a small claims court lawsuit form. My divorce lawyer was now threatening to sue me. Not only that she had tacked on a $40 review of case fee and interest.

I called her that minute. You told me you cared about my boys. She was cold and terse. I said you will get your money. She wanted me to put it on a Discover card. I said no. I can hardly afford to pay for oil and food and she wants me to tack another $810 on a Discover card that had a 30% interest rate. Why is the rate so high? Because the great deal I got in divorce, mediated by my lawyer has me paying child support (although I have 50% custody) and all the tuition for my youngest son to go to kindergarted because my hometown has no kindergarten program. I told her I would try to pay something soon.

About 2 weeks later I got the form. I was now officially being sued. I was irate. I had given this bitch $7000 of my life savings and she wants more. The filing of the case cost money and now that was also on the bill. The $770 bill was now $890. at this rate it will be over $1,00 soon. Who cares I thought. Now I will do everything I can to make her wait. I called her one last time. She had been consisitently late every time we had to appear in court. Not by a few minutes either. One time by about half an hour. I had one question for her when I called that day.

Me: I got your letter telling me you are now suing me

Divorce Attorney: I am not going to discuss this now

Me: Are you gonna be in court on time that day?

Divorce Attorney: I am not going to discuss this now

Me: Are you going to be in court on time that day? (louder)

Divorce Attorney: I am not going to discuss this now

Me: (yelling into the phone) ARE YOU GOING TO BE IN COURT ON TIME THAT DAY?

Divorce Lawyer: Maybe not

Bet she will be.


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    • profile image

      Just a mouth piece 

      6 years ago

      I have never believed in hiring a divorce attorney. All they are is mouth piece in court and they don't even come close to saying what you have sad in all those private, door closed meetings that you have to pay out the ass for. I have yet to see any attorney worth the amount of money they charge to shuffle papers. Doing your own divorce has gotten very user friendly on the web. You fill in the blanks with your dates and amounts. then it is formatted for you, instructions explain the steps in doing your own divorce, when to file and what to file. I don't care how much a person is worth or how much child support/ spousal support the gold diggers think they need. I look at it this way... the law firms may think they are experts in their field, but guess what, I am a frickin geuiness, as well as an expert when it comes to my life! They certainly are not ! I highly recommend that you go to your states superior court web site(don't forget to include your county in the search) and fill in the blanks.You can find the information to file yourself under "Family Law" Good luck to all who are wanting to choke the day lights out of someone right now.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have seen nearly all there can be to strongly advise before any one signs a marital license to read and watch a divorce trial and imagine that before assuming simplicity if it does not work out.

      Never should the process of having to go through a dissolution of marriage near equal or worse

      Than the reasons for having to request a dissolution of marriage.

      For it is true what I'm reading here a seems to be ok if one makes enough they can victimize body and threats as well continuously harm their spouse or x spouse for trying to break free.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great article!I am going through a divorce(just the beginning),paid $750 so far. I am NOT HAPPY with my lawer!Don't trust her at all.It seems like she doesn't hear me ever.The horrible thing is that she tries to reduce the amount of money which I can get from my husband,who filed a divorce.He offered to me some money before he filled a divorce not to have lawers, but just to say "good bye" to each other.I disagreed and decided to have my own attorney.What do I have now? She acts that she is going to "fight" for the amount of money for me and mentions..... the amount of money which my husband offered to me to move out and leave him alone!She also says,that I am getting my furniture back and my car.But my furniture WAS mine before I married this husband and he doesn't need it.My car?I have to pay a loan $13,000.00 for it!My husband NEVER wants my car with its payment.So,what the attorney is going to get for me???Nothing! I am thinking to refuse from this attorney and DO EVERYTHING WITHOUT ANY ATTORNEYS!Myself!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have been through over 8 years of this in court, multiple attorneys who could care less about anything except taking my money - and would take every last penny if I let them - I have a serious, life threatening and terminal illness, am on SS Disability, not one penny of marital assets, marriage over 30 years ago, abusive husband abusing further through playing the court system, and his attorney who has a reprimand for her terrible, unethical behaviors with former clients, and her own conduct towards the bar, they issued a bodily writ on her because she wouldn't respond to them. I could write so much more. My present attorney, whom I now have to replace, is no different than all the money hungry predecessors and does not treat me with respect, and I had to repeatedly ask him to please, please do something in my case. He finally got an order for attorney fees and support, however, payment never made by ex, and I had to push him to file motion for contempt and push the issues for sanctions, etc. to get the judge to penalize, force payment, etc. to me and on my behalf. A lot of grief and aggravation, lack of respect towards me, lack of communication, I have had to send many emails just to get something done, communicate - for which I have been charged a lot of money. Now I have to start with a new attorney and hopefully he is decent and ethical. I just cannot believe the ability of attorneys to just take money and not be accountable to their client, not do the job at hand. The horrible circumstances I have been forced to live under, losing so much every day, making my illness issues worse, wondering what is going to happen to me, going without appropriate needs for myself, basically down to a poverty level ex has played every attorney and judge so far. I cannot believe what has happened to so many good people, who are good people but got involved in a bad marriage, situation and have suffered horrible years, and predatory attorneys are the next victimization we have to deal with and be destroyed by. Isn't this totally criminal????? And no one punishes these attorneys.......for this criminal, cold, callous and unethical behavior.

    • drfurr profile image


      7 years ago

      This is terrible but not even close to how bad I got screwed. I will probably be living on the street soon!

    • tinaweha profile image

      Tina Boomerina 

      8 years ago from Seattle (and the world)

      I would get a new attorney and call the local bar association to rat out this horrid creature. Ask the bar association if they have any ideas about how to handle this...of course, they do protect their own, but at the very least, report her.

      PS I have heard many people say that a person with a good attorney should not end up in court, at least that's what I've heard in my state. (This is my opinion based upon what I've heard. Just an opinion.) Sometimes, it makes sense to go to court but I do believe that most cases in community property states will not need to go to court because most of it already spelled out. The exception to this may be when a man has his own business and it is easier to hide assets and income. (I must remind you that I am not a lawyer, but I have been around a few.)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wish I'd read this before I retained a lawyer to help me modify my child support agreement. I waived support 10 yrs ago in my divorce, but have been laid off 3 times since. I also paid ex 1/2 my assets in divorce. Oh, and did I mention my parents are paying for the kids' college, so the ex gets off scott-free. I can't get a dime out of him, and he keeps asking me for more money because his new wife won't let him spend anything on his kids.

      Took 4 months to get a hearing date, even with me incessantly nagging the paralegal weekly, then they finally filed, and the judge went on vacation. Then guess what? My ex got laid off. So now we're both unemployed, and I just wasted $6k on a case against a dude who was making 6 figures, lied on his financial affidavit, and now is essentially judgement-proof.

      And no, my attorney would not refund a single penny for causing this delay which caused me to lose any chance I had of recovering any money, in fact, they threatened to send it to collections, even though they knew of my unemployed single mom situation. The whole system stinks and needs to be changed!

    • profile image

      personal injury law firm nyc 

      8 years ago

      I feel very sorry for the struggling people trying to put their lives back together and move on that get taken advantage of by money hungry lawyers. More should read this Hub as a forewarning of what they may be up against. Well written. Thank You!!!

    • profile image

      Jonny Cage 

      8 years ago

      i will never recommend somebody to divorce on their own...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am dealing with this issue now. My deadbeat wife who was secretly using our home equity line of credit to avoid getting a job, is now zeroing in on my 401K. This is predictable, as I found out after we got married that her familt (and bilogical father in particular) were career criminals, and our currently in jail. I have always heard that the legal system was stacked against husbands, but I am seeing that for real as we get divorced.

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      8 years ago

      I went through an ugly divorce that not only cost me mucho $$$ but all of my self esteem and dignity. I fired my lawyer as he negotiated in the stairwell outside the court room, smiling with my ex's lawyer and came back and suggested I accept all her terms, six months of time with this jerk and he came up with nothing, who was he working for, certainly not me. I have been through the mill the past 10 years, me ex had stopped at nothing to make me pay for leaving her, she turned 3 of my children against me, I have not talked to or seen them in eight years, some woman/men will go to no ends to make you pay. After all was said and done, who get's it all. THE SHARK LAWYERS AND JUDGES so they can continue to put new designer shoes and clothes on their childrens backs at the suffering of the VICTIMS the divorcing couple. It disgusts me, the legal system is a SHAM>>>I wish you peace, I had none for 10 years.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great post. I will use the tips and advise.

    • singlmomat52 profile image


      8 years ago

      I feel very sorry for the struggling people trying to put their lives back together and move on that get taken advantage of by money hungry lawyers. More should read this Hub as a forewarning of what they may be up against. Well written. Thank You!!!

    • Johanna Smith profile image

      Johanna Smith 

      8 years ago from Fort Collins, CO

      Some people DO manage to get divorced on their own. One of my friends did.


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