Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A lawyer seeks to "even the playing field" in divorce...

So yesterday, I read this article on Yahoo about a lawyer named Stacey Napp who started a business to help women who are divorcing wealthy men.  Napp's business seeks to aid people who can't afford to pay the astronomical costs of paying for lawyers, but want to split from their spouses.  According to the article, most of Napp's clients are women who have been stay at home moms while their husbands have made it big in the business world.

When I first read the article, I found myself turned off by what Napp is doing... even as the practical side of me understands that there are a lot of women who need her services.  Probably what turned me off the most is that she only helps a small percentage of the population-- women... the majority of whom are white and wealthy... and are hoping to stick it to their spouses.  Instead of forcing the women to pay their lawyers by the hour, Napp foots the money for their lawyers upfront and takes a percentage of their winnings... kind of like a personal injury lawyer would.  She doesn't reveal how much she takes, but offers that it's less than what many would expect.

Now... I'm all for equality and I agree that if a spouse helps launch a business, he or she should benefit from its success.  However, I cringe at the idea that women need "special help".  I have several reasons for feeling the way I do.  As a woman, I don't like to feel second class simply because I don't have a penis.  I think that women who bitch about a lack of equality do themselves a disservice when they ask for special treatment.  We can't achieve equality if we get special breaks and as long as we insist on being part of a special protected class, we will always be downtrodden.

According to the article, Napp's clients have all been women... the privileged spouses of wealthy men who are splitting up.  Naturally, women who stay at home to raise children are less likely to be able to afford good lawyers.  However, women tend to get more in divorce proceedings and they also tend to initiate them.  While I can understand why some women want to get their husbands where it hurts-- their wallets-- I also find it distasteful when women go after men in this way, especially in an age when a woman could choose to work if she really wanted to.

I also find it distasteful that Stacey Napp only works with women who are arguing over assets in the $2million to $15million range.  Granted, she's a shrewd businesswoman and it's not financially feasible to offer this kind of arrangement for smaller settlements, but it still seems icky to me.  It's all about the money and making a profit.  I guess I just hate to see the dissolution of marriage come down to just dollars and cents and arguing over who gets what.  Maybe that makes me an old softy.

It's easy to see now why so many people insist on pre-nuptial agreements or not getting married at all.  Divorce is ugly and it's a big, distasteful business.  I hope I never have to go through it, but if I do, at least I know I'll probably be too poor to warrant Stacey Napp's services.  

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