If you want a peaceful divorce, you’ll want to read John and Laura Roach’s Divorce in Peace. Read the transcript below of Cathy DeWitt Dunn interviewing the authors Judge John Roach and Laura Roach.
Cathy DeWitt Dunn: And welcome back live to Women, Money, and Power. I’m Cathy DeWitt Dunn. Thank you so much for joining our show today. Well, I have a couple of wonderful special guests, so hopefully you’ve been staying tuned and listening to what we’re talking about today. I have Judge John Roach, who is up in Collin County.
Judge John Roach: That’s right.
Cathy: It’s just amazing. I’m glad to have you on the show.
John: I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Cathy: And then I also have Laura Roach, his wife, which is how dynamic is that, talk about the stories you guys have to talk about. And Laura is a fabulous attorney, so if you’re thinking about a divorce or, you know, you’re looking for a collaborative, we’re gonna talk about some different options you may have. You wanna give me a call today because I can put you in touch with her and she can save you a lot of money if you’re going through a divorce. So it’s great to have you both on the show.
John: Thank you.
Laura Roach: Thank you.
Cathy: You know, we were talking about on the breaks some crazy stories and how people just spend crazy money and it is amazing how much money gets spent.
John: It’s amazing. In the one story I was telling you about before is this that a couple came in on their very first hearing and we call it a temporary orders hearing, so it’s very early on in the process probably within a month of the divorce being filed. And this people had about $2 million to $3 million amongst themselves, all liquid, and ready to go and…
Laura: And emotions were hot.
John: And emotions were really, really hot about a lot of things.
John: Yeah, shocking. And so they came in there and I could see the attorneys are fighting, them fighting, they just couldn’t agree if the sky was blue that day. And so I could see it coming, I could see that they were gonna blow through these millions of dollars and at the end of the day they would have nothing, nothing. And so over a three-year period, it just continued to drag out. The three-year period every time they came in they had less money, they were fighting or they’re spending money to fight over the money, and so they kept going and kept going and kept going.
Laura: And attorneys kept getting on and off the case.
John: Yeah, the attorneys kept getting on and off the case and stuff and, you know, that’s the signal.
Cathy: Oh, that’s cost effective.
John: Yes, that’s cost effective. They’ll start all over again, and then you see them again later on because the money was still there. And lo and behold three years later, and we have their final trial, the attorneys are gone because they can’t afford their attorneys anymore, so the $2 million to $3 million is gone and all the people who were left in the courtroom were me and them two, and they’re basically fighting over nothing at the very end of the day. And had they taken my advice early on in the process three years before gone to the things that we’re gonna talk about today to avoid going to court, they would now have $1.5 million each and they get grow and they could go on after the divorce.
And they just could not, for the life of them, get it together on enough and put their animosity and anger and all those things that are natural in a divorce. Put those aside and realized that they had to continue to live long-term without the other spouse and they didn’t have the money to do it. And they were used to a pretty high lifestyle. And they couldn’t do that anymore, they could barely get, you know, afford a new home because they’d spent it all.
Cathy: Well, you’d…
Laura: Sorry, I’ll just say is what’s wrong with that too is that there’s a financial cost to that, but there’s also an emotional cost and then most importantly an opportunity cost. They were running a successful business that could have grown and they could have taken their money and invest it here and had it grow or put in this kind of fund and have it grow. They lost all those opportunities because they were spending and bleeding and all out, that’s the worst case.
John: And their clients all left them. The clients all left them because they didn’t wanna be part of the middle of a controversy. And the worst is that they’re gone and they cancelled contracts and they were thriving. They would have been hugely successful together or on their own and they just blew the opportunity.
Cathy: Yes. So one of the things as I get a lot of calls for people that are looking for an attorney or going through a divorce and the first thing they do is they just start Googling, you know? Like, “I’m mad as heck. I want the nastiest attorney, which is what you were saying earlier Judge.”
John: That’s right, that’s right.
Cathy: So what are the options? You know, because if you’re on the Internet you have to have an attorney. You have to do this. I mean all these different things. What are the options?
Laura: Well, one option is to do it informally to start. Meaning, get educated. Go find good books, go find good places.
Cathy: Great books, yeah.
Laura: Go find information so you know what you’re actually fighting over. I can’t tell you how many people come into mediation, and they both have attorneys and they don’t even know what the issues are. They don’t know if they’re gonna agree on a custody arrangement, or they’re gonna agree on dividing up the 401K, or selling the house, or selling the rental property, or whatever. They’d never have a face-to-face discussion about it.
So I think to minimize damage financially and emotionally and opportunity wise, the best thing to do is if you can sit down to your spouse and figure out what you’re actually fighting over. Just do it first, do it informally. If that doesn’t work and you end up lawyering up, you can go to mediation with attorneys but do it early in the case.
Cathy: Yeah, absolutely.
Laura: So, you could do it with or without attorneys, but a lot of people are more comfortable having lawyers at that point. But going to mediation, do it early and again, to identify the real issues, you may not be fighting over anything at this point. You just don’t know it yet because you haven’t communicated. So that’s one of the processes.
Another way is something people talk about, you hear a lot about collaborative law. And collaborative law is really a team approach to getting the case resolved, meaning you hire an attorney that has the collaborative mindset, your spouse hires an attorney that has a collaborative mindset. You sit down as a team with some other professionals, financial advisors, counselors, parenting facilitators, things like that to help you resolve all your issues as a team. And that’s a great way to stay out of court.
And then some of the people don’t use but we use them in civil cases all the time is arbitration. People think they have to go to the courthouse, it has to be public, it has to be, you know, the nasty drug out War of the Roses in the courthouse, but it doesn’t. You can actually have a trial and hire a private judge to act like an arbitrator, I mean to be an arbitrator and actually make decisions for your case in the privacy of a law office.
Cathy: Yeah, which is why would you want everything floating out there if you’re that adversarial against each other privacy-privacy, right?
John: It’s amazing. I mean anybody can walk in to any courtroom anywhere and watch your dirty laundry on display. And then people do it every single day, and so their neighbors come in and watch because of the drama in the neighborhood.
Cathy: They do.
John: The parents, where they’d hear all the mess.
Cathy: I never thought of that.
John: They do, and it’s just terrible. And you’re just watching it happen and it’s sad.
Laura: And from a money standpoint the arbitration part, it does cost money because you have to pay for that private judges’ time, right? And you have your attorneys’ fees too unless you did it on a private arbitration, but it does cost money but the arbitrator if you pick a good one, can limit the expenses. It can really limit discovery. It can limit the drama so to speak when they’re handling the case. So it could be a good financial decision, better than again having an all-out war at court.
Cathy: You know, and for everybody that’s just joining us today, would you like to save yourself a lot of money if you’re thinking about a divorce? Log on to womenmoneyandpower.com and write in the middle of my webpage. There’s a link to this book that’s fabulous. It’s “Divorce in Peace.” Divorce in Peace. It can be done.
John: It can be done.
Cathy: It can be done.
John: And people write us a lot and say, “That’s an oxymoron,” because that’s all they know, but it’s really not an oxymoron. You just have to swallow your pride just a little bit, take a really deep breath and realize that, “Hey, let’s don’t do it the wrong way.”
Cathy: You now, I just… I guess my mindset is a little bit different, it’s if I’m gonna win, I’m gonna win with the money.
John: That’s right. That’s the win.
Cathy: I don’t want to…right. So that’s the win. It’s not just in front of the judge, right?
John: That’s right.
Cathy: And, you know, one of the things I find pretty interesting from my perspective is as being a financial advisor is that when you hire an attorney like Laura, and you’re representing a case, you can’t give them financial advice on what to do. You can maybe direct them on this or that but you cannot give them financial advice.
Laura: Yeah, that’s absolutely correct. In fact, even in my retainer agreement, I state, “I’m not giving you any financial advice,” because people make that mistake. They depend on their attorney to tell them how to divide an asset up and they really, really need to consult with somebody like you. So, before they decided to just take the 401K or take all the cash out of the house, that’s a big difference. There’s a pre or post-tax results either on dividing up either one of those assets. So people don’t know how the tax affects their estate and lawyers don’t know either. So you gotta depend on a financial advisor.
John: And another thing is the judge doesn’t know how to do that stuff either. And so a lot of times these people are coming to me and they want me to…well, every time they come to me. They want me to divide their property up. And I don’t know the tax consequences of doing all the stuff. I don’t have a financial advisor sitting in the courtroom with me. And so I just honestly, just take a shot at to dividing the assets and I have no idea how to divide it in a way that’s tax beneficial to both of them.
Cathy: All right, because that’s not what you all do. Well, you’re just sitting…you’re dividing up the estate but not financial…
Cathy: Right, period.
John: That’s right. Their expectations for court are wrong. They’re expecting way too much out of the court system. They can’t satisfy you.
Laura: And that’s something we have in our book that makes our book actually pretty unique is that we have mediators’ perspectives which are my perspectives, just little stories I have from different mediations over the years. And it has judges’ perspectives, which is great because people have this perception, they’re gonna go to court and they’re gonna hit it out at the park and they’re gonna walk out happy and they’re gonna get the house and the 401K and their kids, that’s not how it happens in court. And so there’s a lot of little stories from John’s perspective just from the bench what he seen and the destruction he seen. And so that’s the best part of this book, in my opinion, are the perspectives, so in my office the one sitting on my desk, because every perspective tagged because I make clients…
Cathy: That’s great.
Laura: …that come in to hire me, I make them read the book. So we have a reasonable expectation, and I want them to make sure they understand the perspectives of where we’re going and where the case needs to get resolved.
Cathy: And if you’d like to find out more about their book, “Divorce in Peace” log on today to womenmoneyandpower.com, right in the middle of my webpage you’ll see a link, and it will save you a lot of money. I think that’s one of the big challenges that we keep talking about is money, money, money.
John: That’s right.
Cathy: And I guess, you know, I was just sitting here listening to some of the stories, you know, there were…one of my neighbors that went through a nasty divorce and like they have the house, they had everything, and in the end the house went through foreclosure. They spent millions and millions and millions of dollars. And I know some of my clients right now are financing some of their children’s divorces, and it doesn’t have to be that expensive.
John: It really doesn’t. And I’ll tell you what, if you go ask your neighbors today, if you saw him in the streets, says, “How is it going? Would you do that again?” I can almost guarantee you that they’d say, “No, it was a waste of money and I wish we would have done it in different way.” I bet they’d also say, “We just didn’t know any better.” Because they didn’t know there are other ways.
Cathy: That’s a great point. Now, if you all are thinking, I know there’s a lot of people there driving around today if you’re going through some personal crisis or you’re thinking about divorce because, by the way, this is one of the biggest seasons for weddings, summer, right?
John: Yeah, it is.
Cathy: But also right after the summer, come around the holiday time is the biggest filing period too for divorces.
John: That’s true. Did you know the divorce industry is a $175 billion business in the United States annually? The wedding business is only a $50 billion business.
Laura: That’s how big divorce is.
John: That’s how big divorce is.
Cathy: That also tells you why you need the book, because…
John: That’s why, that’s exactly it.
Cathy: …you know what? Because who’s making all the money? It’s the attorney.
John: Oftentimes it is. That’s right.
Cathy: Again, log on today to womenmoneyandpower.com, there’s a link right in the middle of our webpage for the book and it’s awesome, “Divorce in Peace.” If you’d also like to reach out to Laura, not to the judge, he’s not gonna be able to help you if you’re in his court, but at Laura, would love to be able to sit down with you and maybe walk you through the process and perhaps save you a lot of money if you’re thinking about a divorce. You could reach us today at 972-473-4700. Again, that’s 972-473-4700 or log on today to womenmoneyandpower.com. I’m Cathy DeWitt Dunn. We’ll be right back to wrap up.