Chapter Seventeen: A word about lawyers…

Don’t trust the bastards.

It’s very competitive between lawyers at the moment. There’s too many lawyers and not enough work. Lawyers are professional liars. They’ll lie to you to extract money from you. They can and often do pour fuel on the flames of your divorce so they can charge you more to put the fire out.

I used no fewer than seven legal professionals during my Family Court/Criminal fight. I would recommend just one of those people to a friend who wanted advice.

I was in the Family Court waiting to see the judge with a lawyer who had just started on my case, when she asked me “Who is the Independent Children’s Lawyer for this case?” and “what are the court orders?”

I told her the name of the ICL, reminded her that we had no orders, hence the reason that we were in court, and reminded her that my name was Mr Ex.

I was paying $495 per hour for that service.

At the conclusion of my criminal trial in the district court when I got a Section 10, I had my conviction “Not Recorded.” I was elated that finally something had gone my way.

Whilst we waited for the elevator to exit the building, my lawyer leaned in towards me and said, “That took longer than expected, that’ll be another $1200” Regrettably, I paid him. I’m sure that I could have reported him to The NSW Law Society for that sort of conduct.  

He was, however, the one lawyer that had a plan that worked.

The reason that he, my criminal lawyer, was the only one with a plan that worked would be that, as a general rule, the Family Court gives the children to the mother. I didn’t work that out until the battle was almost over.

The mother would have to be injecting them with meth more than three times a week with dirty needles for them to give the kids to the father.  No Family Lawyer is going to tell you that before you hire them.

Most lawyers allow you a free 30-minute consultation before you sign up. Try 20 of them. Don’t tell them that you’re seeing 19 others. You’ll soon sort the wheat from the chaff.

Ask penetrating questions like “How will the expert go about valuing my company?” This helps if you own a company. Take in your tax return. If they can’t give you a specific answer they don’t deserve your money.

FYI: In my case, to value my company, the valuer took my last tax return and added my last annual profit/loss to the figure in the tax return for “Plant and Machinery” to get a total company value.

The amount recorded for “Plant and Machinery” represented the 5000 trips to Bunnings I had completed when renovating my business premises years previously. It had nothing to do with my business’s market value or my business’s asset base, unless you count the paint and screws I purchased from Bunnings years earlier. The valuer admitted as much in his report, suggesting that we should perhaps get an independent valuer to count and value my actual Plant and Machinery/assets.

I would have thought that was his job. You might be amazed at the bullshit that you incur going through this process.

My lawyer didn’t tell me that would happen. At no point did she sit me down and say “This is how the valuation will go down. You may want to adjust this year’s figures with this in mind”.

After my last tax return, I received a garnishee notice from the ATO. Had I got my accountant to complete a trial balance prior to the valuation, the valuer would have used it instead of my latest tax return.

I could have taken that amount owed to the ATO from my profit. I wasn’t told that by my lawyer either.

Some lawyers just sit by and let the machine roll over you without doing their best to help you. And they charge you $500 per hour for the pleasure.

My family lawyer told me when we first met, “We’ll do something about Jannawi later”.

After $50,000 from the sale of my house had been deposited into her trust fund to cover her costs, she let me know that I would do my case damage if I spoke poorly of Jannawi in front of the judge. She knew the judge who was , apparently, a one eyed Jannawi fan.

She had obviously never had any intention of “doing something about Jannawi”. At that point she already had my $50,000.

When I started the court battle, I wanted 50 percent custody, which my lawyer seemed to think was possible.

Some meetings later, after my $50,000 was in her trust account, she said, out of the blue, that the courts were probably going to give the bulk of custody to the mother.

At the time, I thought that comment was quite weird. It didn’t fit the context of the conversation that we were having.

In hindsight, she was managing my expectations. Had she told me that before I hired her I would have gone elsewhere, until I found someone who told me what I wanted to hear.

Of course, that may have made no difference to the outcome. I wouldn’t define that behaviour as corruption. It’s someone being a polite bullshit artist to make a living.

Don’t trust the bastards…