FAMILY LAW ARTICLES
Hello. Today, I am going to tell you the story of the most expensive motorcycle in the world.
My name is Carla Hartley and I am going to convey to you the story of an incident that occurred when I was a very young attorney which has informed many of my decisions and a lot of the advice I have given over the course of the intervening years. So we had a case years and years and years ago. I was working for a couple of attorneys while I was going through law school and in this case, we had a woman who was jilted, scorned, a mother of two unhappy, very unhappy that her husband had found happiness with another woman. We had an opposing party which was the husband and while he had found some momentary happiness with the other woman, he was also very very guilt-ridden. We see this a lot in family law proceedings where one party or the other is making very bad financial decisions because they feel guilty.
This guy felt so guilty that we received an offer from him, all we had to do was write it up and in the offer, he wanted to keep the boat, not a big boat just you know a little boat but there was a bed on it and I think it was like a 30 footer so it wasn’t, you know a skiff. He wanted to keep the boat and he wanted to have his motorcycle which was an older motorcycle. I don’t know that we would call it vintage maybe but it wasn’t like you know the most incredible motorcycle in the world. It wasn’t a huge collector’s item. It was just a lot of sentimental value. He kept it in good shape over the years. That motorcycle was back at the former family residence.
So in exchange for these two things, he was going to give his wife the brokerage account. Not half of it. The whole brokerage account. He was going to give her his retirement. Not half of it. All of his retirement. She was going to get primary custody of the kids and as I recall she was going to let him see the kids when they wanted to and without any real schedule, but they’d be in her primary care. So he was going to agree to that. He offered to let her keep the house without paying it out. Just pretty much everything and in exchange. Oh and the spousal support he was offering, the child support way more than the court would ever have ordered.
He wanted her to be absolutely okay and have no problems in her ongoing life ever. So as the law clerk in the firm, I was tasked with drafting these documents. So I’m pulling together the judgment documents and I was told to you know do this quick fast and in a hurry, we don’t want anybody changing their mind ever, ever, ever.
So I drafted. Drop everything, get this stuff drafted. We get it out to the client for her to review and before reviewing the documents she went out to dinner that night and went to a restaurant where her husband and she had frequented many times together. While she was there she saw him at their restaurant with a new interest and she became quite angry. So she went home and she perpetrated all sorts of indignities on that poor motorcycle. She slashed the leather. She splashed something on the paint to mess that up and I’m not going to go into everything she did but she pretty much ruined the motorcycle and since it was something that had great value to him in terms of not so much money, but in terms of memories, I think I would say. I think it’s something that he had with his dad and he just loved that motorcycle.
So after she did this, she apparently sent him some, you know, information telling him she had done so. I think at that time we didn’t have the availability of cell phone so easily so I believe what she did was she called him and told him and he got a message that this is what had happened. Oh my that changed everything. He rescinded the offer. He retained counsel. He wanted and eventually received equally shared custody of the children. He paid her not a dime more of support than he had to. In fact, as I recall he got orders requiring her to find work and go to work. Oh my goodness. He gave her half of the community estate and by half I mean she got half of the brokerage account. She was able to get half of the retirement account. She had to buy out his 1/2 interest in the former family residence.
So I figure that motorcycle probably cost her upwards of half a million dollars. Easily upwards of half-million dollars and we’re looking at a long time ago, almost twenty years ago that that’s a lot of money in today’s dollars. To top it all off, he sought monetary sanctions for her damage done to the motorcycle. It was deliberate. It was in frustration of settlement. There were a lot of fees and costs incurred afterward and he had a beautifully written paper trail and a recorded voice message constituting a confession about the motorcycle. So he got financial sanctions from her that were payable from her share of the community property estate.
As I said, I think that’s a big mistake. This is in the nature of a morality tale. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. But that is the story of the most expensive motorcycle in the world as far as I know.