In the Sunday, May 1, 2011 edition of the New York Times on page 25 of the main section there is a full-page ad for an organization called “Woman’s Divorce Finance. ” The ad states “[W]e don’t just fund your divorce – we manage it.” The website for Woman’s Divorce Finance states” there are no up-front fees and no asset minimum required….[and] payment is based upon a percentage of the assets and support payments you receive in any settlement or other legal resolution of your divorce.” The only access to the website to obtain more information requires an interested woman to fill out a form giving biographical information, the name of the person’s lawyer, if represented, income information and provide a narrative about the marriage and lifestyle. The site promises that someone will contact you as soon as possible. That’s it. The ad and website make no representations about or identification of the people or professionals – if indeed they are – who purportedly will “manage” and “fund” a woman’s divorce. It appears that the purpose of the ad is to suck a woman in, determine what the income and assets are and obtain a contingency fee based on what assets the woman receives or a percentage of support payments. The percentage paid to “Woman’s Divorce Finance” is not specified in the ad or on the website.
The website pitch clearly implies that “Woman’s Divorce Finance” will control (“manage”) the legal strategy and lawyer providing legal representation. There are ethical restrictions in most states which prevent non-lawyers from practicing law. How “Woman’s Divorce Finance” gets around this detail is unknown. “Managing” someone’s divorce sounds like legal representation. A woman considering using Woman’s Divorce Finance” must be very wary. Make no mistake, the intent here is for Woman’s Divorce Finance” to profitably “manage” a woman’s divorce. Woman’s Divorce Finance thus has a financial stake in the outcome of the divorce settlement or litigation. In many states it is unethical for a lawyer to have a contingency fee or stake in the outcome of a divorcing party’s child support or alimony. If a lawyer – or anyone else – has a financial interest – in the outcome they may not act in the client’s or the children’s best interest – but act in their own interest.
Anyone considering this option must be very careful. There will be a contract that Woman’s Divorce Finance will ask you to sign. Take this contract to your lawyer or a trusted professional advisor before you sign anything. You must completely understand what stake this organization has in your assets and support payments before you sign any contract. Equally as important, you must understand what Woman’s Divorce Finance will do to “manage” your divorce case and whether your lawyer will agree to be “managed.”
I would like to hear from women who have used Woman’s Divorce Finance to fund their divorce and about their experience and outcome. Please post a response.