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It costs only a few bucks and takes as little time as 5 minutes to get married-but it can cost a fortune and take years to get a divorce. I will be the first to agree that there are few joys in life more precious than those enjoyed by a couple in a happy and fulfilling marriage. Unfortunately, few couples seem to have the aptitude for participating in a happy marriage.

I often joke with friends and acquaintances who are on the threshold of marriage. “Hang around my office for a few days before you decide to get married,” I suggest to them. If they could only listen the horror stories of hated, evil and destruction that divorcing individuals inflict upon another, they might think twice about entering into the unpredictable world of marriage. What is most strange and inexplicable is that many of these couples once loved each other (or thought they did) so deeply, that, were you to tell them that, in a few years, they might be emotionally and physically beating up on one another, spending thousands of dollars fighting over a $500.00 painting or accusing one another of child molestation or being a drunken whore, they would look at you in disbelief. Unfortunately, fifty per cent of the couples who lovingly, and with great expectations, exchange their vows today will be exchanging physical and/or mental assaults within three years of today. Sadly, marriage often turns into mayhem.

Many men and women have admitted to me that they never loved each other from the day that they married. These couples should never have married one another in the first place-and they knew it at the time! I can't count how many men I have interviewed who have made statements to me such as , “I knew something was not right with us, but I though things would improve when we got married,” or “She was sweet and wonderful while we were dating, but she turned into a different person the day after the wedding.” Other imperfect reasons, such as “everyone else is doing it,” loneliness, guilt, being forced into it, the fear of losing her, or the thought of someone else making love to her have all been the basis of marital disaster. Sadly, most of these marriages are doomed from day one.

Neither I nor any so-called marital expert can honestly claim to have the formula for what makes an excellent marriage. I've known childhood sweethearts who grew up together in a storybook relationship only to almost kill one another within six months of getting married. On the other hand, I have known couples who married compulsively after having known one another for less than a month, couples who seemingly have nothing in common, who today are blissfully celebrating their golden anniversary and hope to celebrate 25 more.

But there is one thing of which I am certain. Men can emerge from a disastrous marriage and remain financially and emotionally intact. Of the thousands of men I have represented these past years, the vast per cent, over 90% I would say, become happier, financially and emotionally richer and, most important, they find peace within themselves.

If both the husband and wife retain lawyers who will fight to protect their interests, but who are equally dedicated to formulating a fair and equitable resolution of all of the issues with as little financial and emotional stress as possible, divorce, not only can be painless, it can add to your personal growth and self-awareness. The problem is that it requires two ethical lawyers-both of whom are entitled to and expect to be paid for their services, but who do not look at their divorce clients with dollar signs in their eyes. And all too many lawyers will milk a case until it consumes every dollar the husband and wife had-dollars which should have been enjoyed by the ex-spouses and their kids.

Our philosophy is to make certain that our male clients are not taken to the cleaners-and to make certain that they are not alienated from their kids. We practice this philosophy and work toward the achievement of these goals with the aim of keeping the attorney fees at a minimum. When we encounter a wife's attorney whose mission is to extract from the husband every cent he has (so that he, the attorney ends up with it), we have legal ways of deterring this conduct.

We base our charges on segments of performance, such as preparation of documents, research, court appearances, etc. We do not operate a time clock. We don't charge you for every phone call, office visit or letter. Those items are included in our retainer. Therefore, you can feel free to call us at any time (and we generally return all calls within an hour) and not worry that the time clock is ticking and extracting hundreds of dollars from your pocket. We will discuss any aspect of the case-and we are willing to listen to you and counsel you when during those periods of stress or depression.

Obviously, we can't guarantee the result in any case. We can provide you with an intelligent and well reasoned evaluation of your case and, in general, provide you with a prediction as to the final outcome. But every case is different, every judge is different and, where juries are involved, no one can guess how twelve strangers will view your case. Plus, we may learn things about you that you neglected to tell us (like the client who was seeking custody of his son but neglected to tell us that he was twice involved in accidents when he was drunk and had the kid in the car). I can't think of a better example of the importance of telling your lawyer everything-even the negative stuff.