Divorce is a business both sad and tough. When my wife filed after four decades, I thought: I’m a smart guy, I can negotiate for myself, no need to spend money on a lawyer. But it turns out that smart has nothing to do with it. There is a system of law and protocol. My wife’s attorney rightly figured she could outmaneuver. She just ignored my responses and encouraged my now ex-wife to escalate (while charging for every call and note).

A friend said to me, “Don’t be a fool. Get an attorney. Cheryl Marsh is the best in the county. Everyone who knows anything about divorce in Custer County calls her.” I sighed, swallowed my pride, called Cheryl, and took out my checkbook. That was smart.

She took on my burdens, cut to the quick, and handled the communication with the other side. Right away, we got things done. Where there had been shilly-shally and mumbo-jumbo legal speak, there was a new and clear sense that the game had changed. We had traction, we made steady progress to a reasonable end.

With Cheryl’s help I settled for almost exactly the offer I had made six months before. When the offer went out on Cheryl’s letterhead, it had a new authority, and opposing counsel knew there was no sense bulldozing, foot dragging, or going silent for weeks at a time. The nonsense stopped. She saved me a lot of money and worry. I’m getting on with my life.