Top Four Reasons Why You Should Hire a Divorce Financial Specialist

by Shawn Weber, CLS-F
Attorney, Weber Dispute Resolution

There are so many financial implications to divorce, it is best to work with a financial professional on your side.

There are so many financial implications to divorce, it is best to work with a financial professional on your side.

In my years as a Collaborative Divorce practitioner, folks have asked me why they should spend the money to hire a Financial Specialist as part of their divorce team. A financial specialist is an excellent resource, who can bring a neutral financial perspective to a legal process. Here are my top four reasons why it makes TONS of sense to hire a financial specialist as part of your divorce team:

  1. It’s Usually Not a Good Idea to Ask a Lawyer for Financial Advice. Most went to law school instead of getting an MBA for a very good reason. I, for one, went to law school so I could avoid math. (Ironically, I do math all the time anyway). I know there are exceptions, but we attorneys are generally not trained to be financial advisors. Yet many of our clients ask us to play that role.
  2. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. There are so many financial implications to the decisions you are about to make regarding your property, cash flow and debt. Why not get with a professional who knows the questions you may not know to ask. As an attorney, I am grateful when a financial specialist points out a tax pitfall that I may not have known about.
  3. Your Spouse May Trust the Neutral Financial Specialist More Than You. Let’s face it. You’re getting a divorce and often trust can be an issue when a divorce is happening. Don’t worry! You don’t need to have trust. Let the Financial Specialist digest all of the financial data into a digestible format. This gives your spouse less reason to be distrustful because a neutral third party helped assemble the information. Increasing the trust factor saves money by preventing the need for costly forensics.
  4. You Have to Do a Financial Disclosure Anyway. Why Not Let the Financial Neutral Do This? In every California divorce, a full and complete financial disclosure is required. You can pay your attorney at his exorbitant rate to put the disclosures together, or you can have a financial professional take care of this part. You’ll spend less money and get better work.

The temptation is to assume that hiring more professionals costs more. But, often the opposite is true. Just like any mechanic will tell you, use the correct tool for the correct job. The Financial Specialist is the best tool to use when considering the financial aspects of your divorce.

Realistic Expectations in Divorce: Do Leopards Ever Really Change Their Spots?

leopards-don-t-change-their-spots_things-wish-id-always-known-menby Shawn D. Skillin, Esq.
Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

As a mediator, I met with a Mediation couple today. I like both of them very much. We
are the same ages, have similar interests and if I wasn’t their divorce mediator, I could be friends with each of them. But what struck me again today, was how divorcing spouses treat each other and annoy each other, and yet at the same time they find this surprising and frustrating.
Shawn Skillin

You are getting divorced. There are multiple reasons why you are getting divorced. Many of them boil down to that fact that you each have a different perspective on various issues. One of you likes the house neat and tidy, the other leaves dirty socks and wet towels on the floor. One of you is fussy about the budget, the other just wants to know if the ATM card works. You each have a different set of expectations for the children and approach discipline in different ways. You both have frustrations, disappointments and hurt feelings. You have argued over these issues many times, you can recite each others point of view word for word. You have stopped even pretending to listen.

Yet when one of you decides to file for divorce there is often an expectation that somehow this will change. The other person will now see your point, change their perspective, after all you must have gotten their full and undivided attention now! Right? Mmmm … not so fast.

In divorce, your individual perspectives don’t magically change. You still see things differently from each other. These differences continue to annoy and frustrate you. Yet, both parties often continue to treat each other in the same way and expect a different outcome. These communication styles didn’t work during the marriage, they aren’t going to work during the divorce. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

This is why I love Mediation and Collaborative Divorce. In Mediation, the Mediator is a neutral third party who helps interpret and re-frame what is being said. The Mediator can put a different spin on the issue, help you both see it in a different way, or at least point out that this isn’t unusual that you each see it differently. The fact that you do, doesn’t make either of you right or wrong, good or bad, just different.

In Collaborative Divorce, there is a Coach, or two, and two attorneys who help each party take a step back and take a fresh look at old issues. Perhaps, even learn a new way of presenting information and proposals to each other. They help you see what you do have in common and how, even with your differences, you can resolve issues, co-parent and work together.

Both Mediation and Collaborative Divorce keep you focused on the present and the future; the past can’t be changed.   How you got here is not nearly as important as where you choose to go now and in the future. In the best Mediated and Collaborative Divorces the parties learn new communication tools that can help them resolve their issues and move forward with hope.

Keeping The Costs Of Divorce Down Is Up To You

by Myra Chack Fleischer
Lead Counsel, Fleischer & Ravreby

There is an old joke about divorce.

Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it. Plunging into Bankruptcy - Financial Speedometer

Humor is rooted in the truth. The truth is that sometimes getting divorced can cost a lot of money. The legal fees can seem out of proportion after it’s all over and the parties involved tally up what they’ve “won” in the form of spousal or child support or property like a home.

But here is another important truth. The cost of a divorce is largely up to you. Your actions determine whether legal fees keep adding up, or whether they can be managed in a reasonable way and minimized.

These are the recommendations I provide to my own clients when they express the need to control their spending on their divorce.

1. Just the facts

Your family law attorney needs to gather all the facts of your case. He or she needs specific information to prepare certain documents and begin the divorce process. The more efficiently and accurately you can provide the necessary information to your attorney, the easier it is for your attorney to get up to speed and prepare documents. Easier equals quicker, and quicker means less expensive if you are paying by the hour.

Don’t think because you “hide” something it will go away. The truth always comes out. Your attorney prefers to avoid surprises.

2. Honesty is the best policy

As part of the divorce process, each side collects as much detailed information about the other side’s circumstances as possible. Written questions are drafted (called interrogatories), and requests for documents and records are made. Depositions are often used, where witnesses are put under oath and asked more extensive questions with all answers on the record. There is no reason not to be forthcoming with your attorney about the good, the bad, and the ugly. The longer it takes to put the story together, the more it costs.

3. Be prepared

If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse cannot settle your disagreements outside of the courts on your own, with or without help from professionals, you will end up in a trial. This is when divorce gets expensive. Try to avoid this if possible. Consider Collaborative Divorce or mediation as a more efficient, cost-effective way to work things out.

If you are heading to court, a lot of preparation is required. There are simply no shortcuts. There are endless details that must be gathered and verified. Your attorney must be diligent on your behalf and determine how best to use the facts to best persuade a judge to make a decision protecting your interests.

It takes time to prepare the parties and witnesses for a courtroom appearance. This is a new and intimidating experience for most people. They need to understand what will happen when they provide testimony, especially when they are cross-examined and challenged by the other party’s attorney.

4. Watch the clock in court

Assuming you don’t decide on a resolution along the way, you will find yourself in a courtroom where a third party – the judge – will make decisions for you since you cannot. A family law judge will listen to all of the testimony, read all of the written documents, and consider the total sum of all evidence presented by both sides. The judge will then render a decision on all of the issues on which you and your ex-spouse disagree.

Trials can last a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. Complex cases can last months. Juggling the schedules of everyone involved can make it challenging to get everyone in the courtroom at the same time. Factor in work and family conflicts, sick days and vacations for more delays. If there are lengthy delays, more time is added to get back up to speed.

5. Family court cutbacks

Many family law courts across the country have experienced funding cutbacks from their state governments. The result is often a shortage of courtroom space or a shortage of personnel available for the amount of cases waiting for a trial. It not only takes longer for you to get divorced, it takes even more time invested by your attorney and other professionals involved to stay up to speed. None of this helps the bottom line.

Have you picked up on a common theme? Time is money where a divorce case is concerned.

You can help save costs by working through the process with your attorney as swiftly and openly as possible. Make decisions in a timely manner; get expert help from a licensed financial professional specializing in divorce, and mental health professional if necessary.

For many reasons including cost, consider a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution that keeps you out of the courtroom, but still allows both sides to work through disagreements. A Collaborative Divorce can present an ideal way to advocate for your interests without the enormous investment of time and money necessary for a litigated divorce.

Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Follow Myra on Facebook and on Twitter.

Collaborative Divorce Gaining Ground in New Jersey

Collaborative Divorce is an option in California and now in New Jersey. Collaborative Divorce saves time and money.

The state of New Jersey already has one of the lowest divorce rates in the United States. For those couples who do make the decision to divorce, they will be better informed about Collaborative Divorce as an option thanks to a new state law signed by Governor Chris Christie. New Jersey is one of 11 states in the U.S. where Collaborative Divorce is an ‘official’ method of divorce along with litigation, mediation, or arbitration.

The high cost of divorce was the reason Assemblyman Holly Schepisi (R-Dist. 39) introduced the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act in the first place. The cost of a litigated divorce, she said, can range from $10,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Significantly, New Jersey’s new law extends the privilege of confidentiality to all the professionals on the collaborative team.

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego applauds this development and we look forward to a day in the near future when Collaborative Divorce is commonly used in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. Read more about the new law here.