Bet the Courthouse on a Divorce Case - Articles

All Content

Posted by: William Haltom on Dec 22, 2010

Journal Issue Date: Jan 2011

Journal Name: January 2011 - Vol. 47, No. 1

You say your 401(k) is now a 201(f)? You lost your nest egg in pork belly futures? You spent your vacation in Tunica, Mississippi, and ended up spending not only your vacation but all your savings and your retirement account as well? Well, I'm no E.F. Hutton. When I talk, you generally shouldn't listen. I lost my money the old-fashioned way.

Spent most of it on whiskey and women and threw the rest of it away.

But have I got a financial opportunity for you! How would you like to invest in a divorce? No, not yours! Somebody else's, specifically a nice poor lady who is being dumped by her two-timing, no-count but rich-as-hell husband!

The nice poor lady can't afford a long drawn-out legal battle against her two-timing no-count but rich-as-hell husband. Her lawyer can't take her divorce case on a contingency fee arrangement as this is not allowed in a domestic case. The nice poor lady has to pay her lawyer at least a couple hundred bucks an hour plus expenses for endless depositions and hearings. And then she has to pay to hire private investigator Paul Drake to shadow the two-timing, no-count but rich-as-hell husband and take photos of him as he engages in his two-timing, no-count shenanigans.

But here's the catch. She doesn't have the money. The two-timing, no count but rich-as-hell husband does!

It's not fair to the poor lady. After all, she put no-count through medical school and then birthed and raised his three children till he decided he wanted to trade her in for a new 2011 Bimbo. Now he and the bimbo are spending money like a drunk congressman while poor Mama is stuck taking care of the kids, who unlike no-count, have still not left the family home.

But here is where you come in! You can help this poor lady in her pursuit of justice and, better yet, her pursuit of taking her two-timing, no-count but rich-as-hell husband to the cleaners! She needs money so she can get his money. And you have the chance to get some of old no-count's money for yourself! And here's the best part! You don't even have to take her case! All you have to do is bet on it!

Gambling is illegal in the Volunteer State. That's why about half the population of my hometown of Memphis spends every Saturday night in Tunica. But while there are no casinos in Tennessee, there are courthouses! And believe it or not, it's totally legal to bet on a lawsuit, so long as you do it the right way.

According to a recent article in The New York Times ("Taking Sides in a Divorce, Chasing Profit"), a whole new industry is now developing to finance and invest in lucrative divorce cases. Balance Point Divorce Funding is based in Beverly Hills, California. Yes, in Jed Clampett's adopted hometown, the new black gold or Texas tea is divorce litigation! Balance Point Divorce Funding will underwrite the cost of a break-up, paying legal fees and expenses as well as the cost of Paul Drake's search for hidden assets in exchange for a share of the winnings once the case is settled or justice has prevailed.

In New York City, Churchill Divorce Finance is also entering the divorce futures market. It's chief executive officer previously co-founded ASK Funding, an Australian company that has invested literally tens of millions of dollars in divorce cases down under. (See Mrs. Crocodile Dundee v. Crocodile Dundee, 147 Australian Decisions, 172, 2009.)

While investing in divorce cases is a fairly recent lending phenomenon, Wall Street has been betting on lawsuits for years. Again, according to The New York Times, banks, hedge funds and other lending institutions have at least $1 billion dollars invested in medical malpractice lawsuits, securities fraud cases and whistle blower claims. And you wondered what Wall Street did with all that stimulus money!

Well, I think its time for this old trial lawyer to quit trying cases and start investing in them. After all, there is only so much money to be made in a lawsuit when you play an insignificant role such as being counsel for either the plaintiff or the defendant. When I'm in a trial and an expert witness is testifying, I am generally the lowest-paid professional in the courtroom, with the possible exception of the judge.

And while you can't try a divorce case on a contingency fee basis, the painful truth is that most trial lawyers trying a divorce case are doing so anyway, because if they don't win, they're probably not going to be paid!

So instead of spending hundreds of hours hearing disgruntled clients complain about their two-timing, no-count spouses and then spending hundreds of more hours taking depositions and ultimately trying a case where you might not get paid even if you win, I have decided the time has come to quit trying cases and start betting on them.

I am pleased to announce the grand-opening of Haltom Litigation Financial Services. (Official motto: "If your two-timing, no-count husband's got the money, honey, we've got the time!") But I'm not quite ready to open for business yet. Like all good lenders, the first thing I have to do is get some money to lend, so if you will excuse me, I am headed to Tunica.

Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a partner with the Memphis firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. He is past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association.