It’s Never About The Money In Divorce (Maybe in Marriage)

It’s Never About The Money In Divorce

A couple years ago, my husband and I went to Las Vegas with 2 other couples.  Very close family friends.  I am going to break the Vegas code and write about what happened.  Downstairs at my most favorite restaurant in the world, Hugo’s Cellar, a fight ensued.  Someone offered someone a martini, and the person took the message wrong, and all of a sudden, Scott and I were left at the table footing a $600 bill (because everyone stormed out of this fancy restaurant).  But it’s not about the martini.  It never is.

And it never is about the money in divorce.  Never.

A few years ago, I had a very emotional mediation with a couple.  The proverbial “you can cut the tension with a knife”.  I usually don’t separate parties in mediation, but with this couple, my little “caucus room” (where I store my Girl Scout Cookies – does ANYONE OUT THERE WANT ANY!!!!!?) got its money’s worth.

This young couple – they were the quintessential  power couple.  Each were individually “killers”.  Together, not so much.  To make a long mediation session short, we were able to work out the parenting plan pretty quickly.  It was clear to me that both of them loved their children and wanted what’s best for them.  In fact, though they were barely speaking to each other (you can feel the animosity like tar in the air), whenever I brought up their kids, they would both get on their iPhones and share their videos.

I actually love seeing the pictures and videos of their kids.  It’s basic instinct-  to love your children more than you hate the other.  It’s hidden during lengthy litigation, but in a mediation, you immediately see a bond between the couple.

In any case, after everything was worked out, the issue of money came up.  Specifically, $53,000.  IMPASSE.  She claimed he owed her this money and she would not budge.  When questioned, she produced a list consisting of 567 pages of expenses, itemized to the cent.  He did not agree.  How did it resolve?  I was able to settle the case with her letting go of $53,000.

Why?  It’s not about the money.  It’s never about the money.  She wanted to be appreciated.  She wanted to stop feeling like a villain.  She wanted to move on and heal.

At the end of that mediation session, I gave them both an opportunity to give an impromptu closing.  I was BLOWN away by what they both had to say to each other.  He cried.  She cried.  I cried.  I am not sure where that couple is today.  But God bless them both.  I KNOW they are in a better place than their contemporaries who took their case to court (and are still stuck there).


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Kelly Chang Rickert

Kelly Chang Rickert (formerly Kelly Yi-Yi Chang) is the founder of the Law Offices of Kelly Chang, A Professional Law Corporation, a firm dedicated exclusively to Family Law. She has been certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist. She is frequently quoted in the media, and is a legal expert for Style Network, TV Guide and MTV on Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Christie Brinkley and Madonna divorce and custody cases.

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