For those of you who have not had the pleasure of getting a divorce yet, here’s how it works: Each side sends the other a list a questions (interrogatories) about financial and other items. The other side has 30 days to respond and must do so fully and completely. This is required by law.
Once all the answers are compiled, if there are no children involved, you add up all the assets and find some way of dividing them by two. Washington is a community property state.
I had told my attorney not to bother asking The Departed for information – just subpoena it – he disagreed, but had also seen enough to realize that there might be something to what I was saying. I gave him a list of accounts.
He looked at it and said, no, I know the company he works for. He has a defined benefit plan – a pension. Everyone does who works there.
No, I said. I work in finance and managed our finances for eight years. I applied for two mortgages with him. There’s no pension, I said.
I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when the subpoenaed documents arrived and showed that, yes, The Departed has a pension plan. And accrued benefits. It was clearly stated on page one of the documents sent by his employer, in the second sentence: Defined Benefit Plan (pension) and Defined Contribution Plan.
We sent copies of all the documents we received to his attorney’s office. Imagine our surprise when, in the midst of all his non-answers to the interrogatory questions, he mentioned another retirement account, but did not mention a pension plan.
Not only did we already have all the documents, we had sent copies of them over to his attorney’s office. Basically, we’d done most of his homework for him.
Yet he still refused to answer the questions.
My attorney made a call and let them know that if he didn’t care to respond, a judge could compel him to do so and fine him for every day he failed to comply. We provide a detailed list of shortcomings, and specifically point out that he has neglected to mention the pension.
A few days later, interrogatories were returned, this time with answers to most of the questions.
He still does not mention a brokerage account of his which holds shares of company stock; nor does he include his pension account.
I go back (again) to the documents his employer sent over. No, I’m not hallucinating: there it is. Page one. Second sentence.
Defined Benefit Plan. Pension.
My attorney responds quickly now to his attorney. They are trying to come up with mediation dates and also get the papers together so that we can mediate at all. Papers must be complete. Where are these two accounts? We provide the account number of the brokerage account. They already have the information about the pension; they’ve had it for months now. We know because we sent it to them.
And the reply comes back: My client apologizes for overlooking the brokerage account. He had forgotten about that account; here is a current statement. However, there seems to be some confusion about the pension: He has checked all of his employment records and we have confirmed that no such plan exists.
I go back and check the documents (again) that his employer sent over. Yes, it’s still there. Page one. Second sentence. Still not hallucinating.
This time, my lawyer takes a different tack: Since to our knowledge, all employees of that company receive a pension, please ask your client to have the company provide proof that your client is not and never was eligible for such a pension.
A few days later, we receive a terse email. “Upon further checking, our client has learned that he is eligible for a company pension. See attachment.”
I receive no apology. And although sorely tempted to demand my own “show of good faith,” I know it will only cost me more money, needlessly. It would be fun, I think, to put him in front of a judge with his forgotten and denied accounts – but there are cheaper forms of entertainment.
But we are headed for a judge and a trial as well – a very, very expensive trial – if we cannot find a way to mediate with the man who will not cooperate in any way with any part of the process.