World of Warcraft is a best-selling online role-playing game. It boasts over ten million subscribers; however it has apparently also left an increasing number of real life casualties in its wake, including a woman named Jocelyn.

Though she is not a player, the 28-year-old California native has divorced her husband of six years due to his development of what she describes as a “crippling addiction” to the game.

She claimed that shortly after he would come home from work at 6:00 p.m., he would begin playing until 3:00 a.m. She said that he was even worse on the weekends, when he would play from the morning until the middle of the night.

“I ceased to exist in his life,” she said.

Jocelyn and her ex-husband Peter had been friends since age 13. However, nine months was all it took for the marriage to fall apart.

She said she purchased the game as a Christmas present for him in 2004, when it first came out. They had their first serious discussion about the direction of the marriage in May of 2005. She moved out of the house by September 2005.

She also said her ex-husband failed to perform his domestic duties as well. She says that he was no longer paying his bills, nor doing his part of the housework.

She doesn’t hesitate to say that the game was the main reason the divorce took place and is still emotional about the impact it had on the marriage. She was upset that her husband would ruin his life and his marriage for “a fantasy land.”

This story was originally told at Yahoo Games and can be found at this link. Though it only includes one side of the story, if true, it is sad that a video game could cause the break up of a marriage. It reminds me of the title of a good book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Or, in this case Amusing Ourselves to Divorce.

In your divorce case, you may hear your lawyer talk about the “discovery process.” Discovery is essentially the legal process by which lawyers can obtain information necessary for your case (such as assets, debts, income, and other factual information). This often will involve written requests to your spouse to produce certain documents, a request for them to file written answers to the lawyer’s written questions (called interrogatories), subpoenas for documents from banks, credit card companies, etc.

Often lawyers will use multiple methods of discovery in an effort to obtain complete information. I have had clients ask me not to pursue discovery for fear of the costs that would be incurred. This is often short sighted. An example from a recent case I had is instructive.

I was representing a wife in a divorce case. The husband had complete control of all of the finances and the wife was not even aware of all of the assets. Through the discovery we sent to the husband he produced a spreadsheet that he claimed were the assets. The wife was surprised at the amount of assets that were disclosed. They were much more than she thought they had. But, the husband showed what he claimed to be the fair market value and the loans owed on them. In all, he showed a net equity of less than $500,000. It was more than the wife suspected, but something told me it was less than it should be. So, we subpoenaed his bank records.

The bank produced documents to us that included the husband’s loan application and the net worth statement that he provided to the bank. And, you’ve probably guessed the punch line – the net worth statement he provided to the bank included assets that he had not disclosed on the financial statement he provided to us, and the values were higher. In all, the difference was that he showed a net worth on the financial statement provided to the bank that was nearly $2.5 million dollars – increasing the marital estate for the divorce judge to divide by about $2 million!

My client now understands it was to her benefit to make sure we did a thorough job of discovery. Obviously this example (though completely true) is not what usually happens – at least not to this degree. But, the lesson is a good one – make sure that your lawyer does a thorough job of discovery. And, make sure that you let him.

Jim Jeffries | Mobile & Baldwin County Attorney

Jim currently is a member of the Alabama Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines and Enforcement as well as a statewide committee that has been tasked with reviewing and making recommendations for possible revisions to Alabama's version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). Jim was also recently appointed by the President of the Alabama State Bar Association to a serve on a committee whose purpose is to review and comment on Alabama legislation regarding joint custody for a proposal to the Alabama Legislature for possible changes in this legislation.

Jim has attained a Peer Review Ranking of AV from Martindale-Hubbell® - The highest an attorney can be ranked by his peers.

He continues to lecture to attorneys across the state regarding family law issues.

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Jeffries Family Law, LLC

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