As some of you know, I recently concluded a lengthy divorce.
 
Now, in any divorce, there may be a good party and a bad party, two good parties that just aren't compatible, or two bad parties. And there's really no need to go into that here.  We were married almost 22 years and eventually had to part ways. Enough said.
 
What I am going to address is two things:  Lawyers, and involvement.
 
Now, I understood from an early age, possibly because my parents got divorced, not to get involved in other people's drama.
 
My advice is this: When two friends or acquaintances are getting divorced, stay the hell out of it.  It's not your fight. Listen and be supportive to either or both, but DO NOT relay any information from one to the other. Don't try to "help save their marriage," as one friend did, based on meeting us for two weeks a year at an event. No, you don't know us well enough, and "God" doesn't want you to do that.  God wants you to stay the hell out of it.
 
The exceptions fall into two categories.  If you're aware of documentable, actual abuse or criminal activity, then by all means help the victim. "Documentable," is key, because no matter how "reliable" your friend is, subjective opinion is not objective.  This was not a factor in our divorce, btw.
 
The other is, "I know these people well enough to know their birthdays, former (or in some cases, current) partners, other friends, parents, and what underwear styles they wear."

Because if you don't know them that well, no, you really don't know them well enough to get involved.
 
I shouldn't have to state the obvious, but a lot of people apparently don't grasp it.  If you give money or other assistance to one party, YOU HAVE CHOSEN SIDES IN A FIGHT.  If you do this, and are surprised that the other party regards it as a hostile act, you're not just naive, you're an idiot.
 
And no, you're not "Helping."  Any money you give to one side for legal bills, for example, has to be matched by the other party.  All you're doing is feeding ammo to a civil war.  Remember that classic Star Trek episode, "A Private Little War"?
 
"Oh, but my friend is the poorer of the two and needs help or they'll be homeless."
 
You don't know this.  And it's not your problem. See above. Unless you have deep personal knowledge of the relationship, you have no way of knowing what the circumstances are, or why. Especially if you're basing it off social media posts. How many trials have we seen where everyone is "positive" of a set of facts from the news and Facebook, and how dare the jury decide "wrongly"?
 
HINT: The jury saw evidence you didn't. They're not wrong. You're misinformed.
 
Possibly your friend is the victim. Possibly they're playing the victim. Possibly both are victims. Possibly both are self-destructive assholes. YOU DO NOT KNOW.  
 
"But I'm SURE!..."
 
No you're not.
 
I'm aware of another divorce where marital rape was involved.  But after the dust settled, the victim admitted that possibly they'd misinterpreted an action and given a signal that could be taken as consenting. And if that sounds ridiculously complicated, you're right, it is.
 
Eventually, it turned out both of them had problems, neither of them had ill intent, and each of them needed someone entirely different to suit their personalities.
 
I knew these people reasonably well as friends, and had detailed info from both. I considered one a victim at the time, but that information was subjective.
 
As I was smart, I didn't try to "help them fix the misunderstanding," and I didn't give either of them money, even when the "victim" was couch surfing.
 
So here's an incident from my divorce, as illustration, and I'm going to name a name.
 
My ex's first attorney wasn't bad, but lacked some of the skills needed to get things moving.  Eventually, the attorney/client relationship ended.
 
My ex needed a new attorney. And this is when a "friend," "helped."
 
Actually, the friend was a tutor I'd hired for one of the kids, who was aware, "My ex has moved out. I have filed for divorce. I have custody of the children and interim possession of the house."
 
And that is all the information they were entitled to or would ever need.  Also, if you know much about divorce, there's a lot of pertinent information in that statement.
 
So, this person recommended an attorney friend of theirs to my ex. One Michael Schoen.
 
Michael Schoen is in my opinion an illiterate idiot.  I offer the below document (readily available in the court's public records) as evidence:
 
 
 
 
This official communication has no letterhead.  It is badly written to the point of incomprehensibility, and has atrocious grammar, spelling, and terminology (Contact/contract, Williams/Williamson). WTF is a "website display" and how would I show it other than to provide a URL?  How would I show changes that weren't archived, and there's no reason to archive them?  The Wayback Machine is available, please avail yourself of it. And this from a man who claims his undergrad degree was in English Lit.
 
When I responded that I couldn't answer these questions because I couldn't comprehend them, he refused to clarify informally, demanded trial, dragged me and my attorney into court, attempted to lambast us, was forced to admit his queries were nonsensical, and got the judge irritated--the judge we BOTH needed to be calm and reasoned for a fair settlement.
 
Then he insisted that by "contact" he meant "Contract" and by "Contract" he meant every receipt I'd ever written for a sale from my secondary business, ever, and every cable, internet or other bill, ever, to determine the"value" of things.
 
Hey, Schoet for brains, those are in my tax filings with the IRS.
 
Then he misquoted state law regarding custody, and insisted he was correct.
 
The judge then demanded his party, meaning my ex, pay for an evaluator to determine the value of the business.  In case you're not aware, that costs hundreds to thousands of dollars.
 
At mediation, with none of these issues resolved because they can't be, he then tried to argue tax and IP law and showed he had even less knowledge of those subjects, and hindered a deal (Which we eventually achieved through a better attorney) by which I willingly GAVE HER THE HOUSE and the accumulated equity (I moved to a new house.  There was no reason to waste the old one, but he seemed determined it was some sort of trick), BTW, this was the deal I'd offered originally. 
 
Then after four hours we had to call mediation unresolved because he had to leave to go to "his job." He wasn't even a full time attorney at that point.
 
The end result was, he was involved in the case for a year, cost her whatever he billed her, cost me $50,000 responding to his idiocy through my attorney (Andrew Bartelt with Hollingsworth and Zivitz, who managed to keep track of all this and respond methodically to complete idiocy.  Thank you, Andy).
 
So, I'm estimating, even if he worked cheap, $70,000-$80,000 we should have spent on our family and kids, wasted. All because someone "wanted to help."
 
And to prove the point, her third attorney Chris Barrows, whom I will also personally recommend, sat down with Andy and got this all resolved in a month and about 5 billable hours. Again, this was close to the deal I'd offered originally. Thanks, Chris.
 
Now, I'm going to do the tutor a favor and not mention them publicly. But I hope they realize that there will be no further work for them through my family, and no endorsement,.  It was none of their business, and their "help" wrecked both party's financial future for months if not years.
 
Everyone else should learn from this.
 
"Oh, you're getting divorced?  I am so sorry to hear that. Do you need a hug and a drink?"
 
And that's as much involvement as you should ever have.