Shhhhh, don’t tell my kids, but “Buddy” our elf, wants a divorce. Sadly, he and his elf wife just aren’t getting along. Wife elf stays out late. She does not come back to the North Pole each night like the other elves. She posts selfies with other male elves engaging in mischievious behavior. Buddy is fed up. Buddy is pretty low-key. He does not like getting into crazy mischief with his assigned family. He keeps a watchful eye on the kids, makes his report to Santa, and moves about the house each day with a little help from his assigned mom. But in general, he keeps life simple. He thinks that he and Wife elf have just grown apart.
Unfortunately, I cannot represent Buddy – I did not take the North Pole Bar Exam. But I agreed to give him a little advice and insight on what to expect when, or if, he retains a North Pole lawyer elf.
His first step is to make an appointment for a consultation. Prior to his appointment he should gather some relevant documents; tax returns, recent pay stubs, and information on assets and debts of both he and wife elf. Do they own an elf home or do they rent? What about a summer home? Maybe he and wife elf vacation incognito somewhere in the summer – a lawyer will need that information too. He should also try to obtain information on average monthly expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries) for he and his wife. It is important to understand their typical average monthly expenses because this information is relevant to establishing their standard of living.
Another important question is whether he and elf Wife earn the same salary. I sure hope Santa gives equal pay for equal work. But their level of experience may differ which could impact their salary. Maybe Santa provides bonuses for superior elfin magic. Does Santa provide retirement benefits such as a pension? Does Santa provide health insurance? These are important questions.
What about little children elves? What are their ages? Do they attend school? Will Buddy and his soon-to-be-ex-wife-elf plan to live near eachother? Most courts want to minimize the impact on children – so parenting plans and schedules can be affected by where the parents decide to live. Let’s not forget elf-child support… That’s determined based on salary and any overnight parenting time.
Another important question is whether Buddy and his elf wife have any side-businesses. If income is generated from such a business it is considered an asset of the marriage and needs to be evaluated. Putting a value on a business is very difficult and can be expensive; especially if the spouses disagree on the income generated. In such situations it is necessary to retain an accounting expert who can review the business books and render an opinion. Buddy should expect that any experts involved in his case will significantly increase the cost of his divorce.
Finally, Buddy asked me if he could represent himself. While I know that Buddy is a very intelligent elf with a good sense of right and wrong, I gently explained to him that it was in his best interest to retain an experienced lawyer elf. First of all, Buddy is a Santa helper elf – not a lawyer elf. Second, he is emotionally involved in his case which can cloud his sense of judgment. A lawyer can be objective and level-headed while still serving as his advocate. In addition, a lawyer may have a good working relationship with Wife elf’s attorney, which will probably help move the case along more efficiently. Finally, I reminded him that even lawyer elves should not represent themselves. Yes, lawyers know the law, but just as Buddy is too emotionally involved, so too are lawyers when dealing with their own legal issues. It just makes sense to hire a lawyer to do what they are trained to do. I am sure a lawyer elf is not keeping track of little children on the side.
Buddy feels better. He knows what he needs to do. He is going to get through the Christmas season. Once Santa returns from his big night, and the big celebration is over, Buddy will be ready to make his 2018 New Year resolution and make some much needed personal changes.
If you’re like Buddy the elf and think that you might want to make some personal changes in the new year – consider my advice to Buddy… and schedule a consultation.