In a surprising family law case out of New York, one judge decided to break with tradition and force an unemployed woman to pay her own legal expenses after being astounded by the costs being run up by her attorney. The case involves a nasty split between Amanda Sykes and her hedge fund founder husband George.
In most divorce cases in New York, the wealthy party is typically responsible for paying the legal bills for the couple. This is presumed, though not required, and the family law judge presiding over the Sykes' case decided to reverse course and force Amanda to foot her own bill.
New York State Judge Matthew Cooper said that due to typical arrangements where the wealthy party pays the legal bills, Amanda had absolutely no incentive to minimize litigation. In fact, bills show that during the first two months of the divorce Sykes' high-powered attorney racked up $700,000 in fees. Since then Sykes has spent a total of $2 million in legal bills with no end in sight.
George eventually petitioned the court for relief, arguing that the massive legal bills were adding up, and he claimed that in this case his wealth was actually a weakness. Given his wife's unlimited access to his money, she had no incentive to settle the divorce, instead being content to continue fighting with someone else's wallet. George, on the other hand, was forced to pay both sides of the dispute and had tremendous pressure exerted on him to accept a divorce settlement, even if it was unfair.
Judge Cooper agreed and said that Amanda ought to be responsible for paying for her aggressive legal approach. Though she is currently unemployed, there is no doubt she will walk away with millions, and the judge agreed with George that she should be made to feel the sting of hefty legal bills.
The case highlights how South Carolina divorces can spiral out of control when couples lose sight of their objectives and begin engaging in a “tit for tat” battle with their ex-spouse. Fighting for the sake of fighting only pads your South Carolina family law attorney's bottom line and results in less money for the two of you to share. Try and remain rational and you can walk out of a divorce without having to fork over huge amounts of money on attorney's fees.
Source: “Hedge Fund Manager's Wife Ordered To Pay Legal Bills In Divorce,” published atFinAlternatives.com.