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Joyce Wishnia had been Bette and Tina’s lawyer alternating between the two women for over seven years. She was recommended to them by their friend Alice who kept a top 10 list of everything; Joyce was ranked number one in the fight for LGBT civil rights. She handled all the legalities associated with same-sex marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, reciprocal beneficiary relationships, all manner of adoptions, divorce and separations.
They first came to her office as a happy lesbian couple in a committed long-term partnership of seven years seeking advice about second parent adoption. Tina was the birth mother and Bette was adopting, but sadly the baby was lost due to a miscarriage at 14 weeks.
Their inability to cope with that tragic event signified the downfall of their relationship. Joyce’s legal advice was sought to work out one crisis after another as the acrimony between them escalated. The lawyer somehow avoided conflict of interest by representing each of them at different times against the other. It was financially lucrative for Joyce, but the couple certainly gave her a run for the money as their relationship over the next seven years was tumultuous at best.
Six months after the miscarriage, Tina came to see Joyce to discuss dissolving her and Bette’s civil union after finding out that Bette had an affair. This was the kind of fight that Joyce loved to sink her teeth into. She was ready to take Bette to the cleaners advising Tina that she was entitled to 50% of all their assets.
Joyce’s tactics became even more ruthless when she realized Tina was pregnant again. She’d done so without Bette’s knowledge, but they were still together when she conceived. Tina explained to Joyce that after the devastating miscarriage she wanted to be sure that this baby was viable before she told anyone including Bette.
Once she passed the 14-week mark and everything seemed to be going OK she was ready to share her good news with her lover when she learned of the betrayal. Joyce got out her legal pad and added child support to the growing list of how she was going to make Bette pay for her indiscretion including alimony, property and of course her outrageous legal fees.