According to DMagazine, a Texas couple spent almost $7.4 million in legal fees as part of their divorce. Ed Bailey, who was married for over 30 years, acquired various McDonald restaurants throughout the marriage. After he sold his 63 restaurants, the couple’s estate was worth about $100 million. The case was about to be heard by a jury, when through some legal manuvering a mistrial was declared. Bottom line is that after spending $7.4 Mn the couple still wasn’t divorced! So, they switched gears, and hired all new attorneys– this time to work things out in a Collaborative Divorce process. They reached a deal outside of court– and for just about $80,000 total they finally got their divorce with the assets being split pretty evenly.

No surprise, Ed Bailey now wants some of that $7.4 Million back, and he has sued his former attorney, alleging a conspiracy between the first set of divorce attorneys. I guess we’ll see how that all plays out in court, but the point I want to make here is that this is a prime example of how people can get carried away in a divorce battle and lose track of the legal fees. Litigation, which is a very costly process, is fueled by anger, and we all know that emotional people do not make the best business decisions. This is exactly why the Collaborative Process encourages people to use divorce coaches that will help them rein in their emotions, and good Collaborative professionals go out of their way to preserve their client’s financial assets.

Perhaps the Baileys could afford to spend $7.4Mn before realizing they let things get too out of control, but most of us don’t have that kind of money to burn, and in this economy I hope more lawyers will learn to work within their client’s budget and set realistic expectations. Ultimately, however, this is a client-driven issue, and it requires consumers to be savier about the choices they make– if you hire a shark, there is a price tag associated with that, and there will be lots of blood. I prefer being a dolphin these days, and thankfully I think more and more people are starting to appreciate my point of view.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.