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Speak to Me: The Cost of Poor Communication Part 1

Speak to Me: The Cost of Poor Communication Part 1

Wife to attorney email: I need to file taxes.  Can you ask Husband’s attorney if he agrees to file jointly?

Attorney to wife email: I will ask.

Wife’s attorney to me email: Does your client agree to file taxes jointly this year?

$65.00 charge to wife

Me: Review email and email client.  Are you agreeable to filing taxes jointly this year. (Adds additional recommendation on best filing strategy).

Client (Husband)to me email.  Yes, I am agreeable.  I have emailed her multiple times over the past several weeks asking her if we could do this.

Me to Wife’s attorney email:  My client is agreeable and had been communicating with your client about this.

$97.50 charge to husband

Attorney to wife email:  Yes, he is agreeable to filing taxes jointly.

Wife to attorney email: Is he agreeable to me preparing per usual?

Attorney to wife email:  I will ask.

Wife’s attorney to me email:  Is your client agreeable to Wife preparing the return per usual?

$97.50 charge to wife

Me: Review email and email client:  Are you agreeable to her preparing the return per usual?  Please insert eyeroll as needed for the back and forth…

Client (Husband). Yes and this is ridiculous.

Me to Wife’s attorney email: Again, he is agreeable.

$65.00 charge to husband.

Total spent: $325

*illustration assumes an average attorney hourly rate of $325 per hour

I am working with a client now who is experiencing 100% non-responsiveness from his soon-to-be-former spouse and co-parent. To say it is costly is an understatement. This is about the third email exchange in a two-week period of back and forth like a broken game of telephone.  It is costing my client literally hundreds of dollars.

In response to wife’s refusal to communicate in any form with my client, I filed a Motion for Attorneys Fees with the court, arguing that if she insists on the position of ignoring my client, she should pay for the facilitation of attorneys being involved in every single communication between the parties. It’s the legal equivalent of being a tattletale and asking the teacher to force good behavior for a defiant and obnoxious schoolgirl – except for a forty-some year-old doctor.

The judge was none too pleased with wife and immediately ordered that she communicate directly with her co-parent in a responsive, businesslike, and respectful manner. He issued this as a warning and in 90 days if she is not compliant, he will award my client fees.

And did I mention this couple has children that they need to co-parent?  Tune in for the next in this series exploring the cost and damage of poor co-parent communication.

Angela Dunne

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