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.

Discover Your Divorce Options at Workshop Saturday, January 2

Lessen the stress of divorce by learning about your alternatives Divorce-Options-Square

December 17, 2015
Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR / 619-997-2495 or gayle@falconvalleygroup.com

(SAN DIEGO) – Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. It can be especially hard if you have children or economic difficulties. Divorce affects people from all walks of life, and no two situations are alike.

It is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce. Learn about your alternatives at “Divorce Options.” The first “Divorce Options” workshop in San Diego takes place on Saturday, January 2, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Community Center, 11885 Cypress Canyon Road (corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and Cypress Canyon, two miles east of Interstate 15).

Divorce Options provides unbiased information about self-representation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigated divorce. The workshop deals with the legal, financial, family and personal issues of divorce in an informational and compassionate small group setting.

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the workshop will cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Learn about your options for divorce at a workshop in San Diego on January 2.

Learn about your options for divorce at a workshop in San Diego on January 2.

“Couples considering divorce have decisions to make about the type of divorce process which best suits their circumstances,” said Dan Martin, family law attorney and Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member. “The Divorce Options program presents an opportunity for the public to learn about the resources they can draw on to plan an effective transition that respects the needs and interests of all family members. Taking time to become more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future,” said Martin.

Martin said the Divorce Options program is useful to anyone thinking about divorce or other relationship transitions including co-habitating couples with children or LGBT couples looking for a process aware and respectful of their unique needs.

Topics include:

  • Litigation, mediation and collaboration – the risks and the benefits of each process
  • Legal, financial, psychological and social issues of divorce
  • How to talk about divorce with your children
  • Guidance from divorce experts

By learning about divorce and the different process options available you can maximize your ability to make good decisions during the difficult and challenging time. Divorce Options is a workshop designed to help couples take the next step, no matter where they are in the process. It identifies strategies to help you stay out of court, and helps you identify the social, emotional, legal, and financial issues that are most pressing for you. There is no solicitation of business.

Divorce Options workshops are scheduled the first Saturday of every month in 2016 at the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Community Center. For additional information or to RSVP, call Divorce Options at (858) 472-4022 or email at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

About the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

CFLG San Diego’s members work together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family. Its goal is to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful, collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need for families to resort to litigation.

CFLG is online at www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com, and LinkedIn.

 

Do You Need A Child Specialist For Your Divorce?

Working with a Child Specialist through the Collaborative Divorce process can help your children move forward without lasting emotional damage.
Working with a Child Specialist through the Collaborative Divorce process can help your children move forward without lasting emotional damage.

Working with a Child Specialist through the Collaborative Divorce process can help your children move forward without lasting emotional damage.

by Frann Setzer, Esq.
MBA/Certified Family Law Specialist
Lewis, Warren & Setzer, LLP

The holidays can be a stressful time of the year, but for those going through separation or

Attorney Frann Setzer

Family law attorney Frann Setzer

divorce that stress can be magnified. This is especially applicable for children, whose reactions to changes in holiday and family traditions may be difficult to measure. Perhaps this is the right time to add a Child Specialist to your divorce team.

Along with their attorneys and a financial neutral working with clients during the Collaborative divorce process, clients also have their coaches to lean on. Coaches are licensed mental health professionals who help clients identity intense feelings and play a key role in keeping emotions from derailing the process. While clients have strong feelings tied to finances, in my experience as a family law attorney, it is often the parents’ emotions surrounding the children that result in the most intense feelings and correspondingly, the most intense conflict, during the divorce process.

Parents worry about how their children are dealing with the divorce. They worry about establishing a routine that will work for their children. They worry about differences in parenting styles. Situations where the children might have special needs or where a child has a troubled relationship with one parent can cause particular concern. A Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with special expertise working with children.

A child specialist can help with these issues in a number of ways:

  1. Resolving differences in parenting styles or skills. A Child Specialist can help parents understand the impact of the divorce and their children’s developmental needs. While the Child Specialist will not make recommendations, he or she can convey the potential risks and protective factors unique to their children. This information can help you make parenting decisions and adapt your parenting style to the situation.
  1. Establishing an optimal schedule. The Child Specialist can also help parents by meeting with the children and then conveying to the parents an understanding of their children’s stress tolerance, developmental needs, as well that their hopes and wishes. This information can be used to help parents craft a parenting plan that works for their children, taking into consideration various factors such as how often the children should transition, whether the children stay together on the same schedule, how flexible the schedule should be. The specialist can also provide examples of schedules that might work well for the children.
  1. How are the children doing? Children often will open up to a neutral trained Child Specialist- someone who is focused on their needs and has no bias. The specialist can assess how the children are coping with the divorce. If the children need further support, the Child Specialist can make referrals to therapists in the community who specialize in divorce-related child therapy.
  1. Working with children who have special needs. Children with special needs such as autism, chronic illness, or learning disorders may benefit from the input of a Child Specialist. The specialist can help parents understand the unique needs of their child and how to structure a parenting plan that will keep the child stable and safe.
  1. Some children may have a difficult relationship with one parent. Sometimes children are drawn into loyalty conflicts and feel they must choose to align with one parent. These children are caught in the middle of their parents’ conflict. The Child Specialist can meet with the children, assess the situation, and help the parents understand the dynamics that are harming the child, the emotional needs of the child, and how the parents can co-parent successfully to support their children. The specialist can help develop a plan to heal or reconnect the estranged child and his/her parent and can make outside referrals as appropriate.

Working with a Child Specialist to address your childrens’ needs during a divorce is one of the advantages of the Collaborative Process. By recognizing and addressing the impact on your children and the outcome moving forward, family relationships can be preserved and everyone can emerge from the experience with a healthy outlook toward the future, avoiding the pain and conflict of a contentious litigated divorce. Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego to learn more.

Collaborative Divorce Featured on “Real Talk San Diego” Radio and Podcast

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Meredith Lewis, attorney with the law firm Lewis, Warren & Setzer, introduced Collaborative Divorce and oMeredith Lewisther forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution on the radio talk show “Real Talk San Diego” with host Jason Cash.

Lewis explains how Collaborative Divorce is an especially good alternative for families with children to resolve their marital issues.

“The satisfaction I have and more importantly my clients have when the divorce is finalized is much greater. Nobody has satisfaction when you go to court. Divorce is one of the most horrible things to go through. If you can do it in a way that is not as destructive to your family, your future and your finances then in my opinion it makes everybody better off,” said Lewis.

Listen to the interview at this link to the show online.

Back to School Tips for Divorced Families

Back to school can be a breeze for divorce parents with these simple tips for success.
Back to school can be a breeze for divorce parents with these simple tips for success.

Back to school can be a breeze for divorce parents with these simple tips for success.

No matter how old your kids are or how many times you’ve been through it all as a parent, there is anxiety mixed with anticipation as kids head back to school this fall. Mixed feelings are natural at this time of year.

There is extra stress and brand new school-related issues to deal with if you are newly divorced. Who is paying for what? What activities will the child get to be involved in? Who keeps an eye on homework assignments? Who does the school call if there is an emergency?

These are issues that can be addressed in the Collaborative Divorce process. If you went through a more adversarial divorce, don’t let school turn into a battleground to establish who is the better parent. Don’t get into competition with your former spouse. Your child is struggling through your divorce while juggling the demands of the new school year. Let school be a place for him or her to have fun, learn, achieve and excel, and forget about the issues at home.

These tips from Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member, family law attorney Myra Chack Fleischer of Fleischer and Ravreby, can help you navigate the process and earn an A-plus for your parenting skills.

 

 

Understanding the Chemistry Of A Divorce

Relationship chemistry is sometimes described as a "spark." There is a chemistry present in a divorce as well.
Relationship chemistry is sometimes described as a "spark." There is a chemistry present in a divorce as well.

Relationship chemistry is sometimes described as a “spark.” There is a chemistry present in a divorce as well.

People often express the need to find “chemistry” in their relationships, the connection, bond, or feeling of commonality between two people. Without positive chemistry, any potential for a relationship is stopped cold.

But even an intense attraction which leads to a marriage can often fade or become lost over time, leading to the decision to divorce. What role does chemistry play at the opposite end of a relationship’s life span?

Michele Sacks LowensteinCertified Family Law Specialist Michele Sacks Lowenstein, member of theCollaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, discussed the role of chemistry in a divorce in a recent interview for the Huffington Post. Lowenstein says attorneys need to understand the role of chemistry when working with their clients.

Lowenstein urges attorneys to problem solve with their clients before going to court. In a Collaborative Divorce, family law attorneys work with divorce coaches and financial specialists to help couples reach a solution for their family in a respectful, fair way withe a problem solving approach rather than an adversarial approach.

Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego by calling (858) 472-4022 to help you problem solve and achieve a healthy, respectful divorce.

 

 

Why a Collaborative Divorce Makes Financial Sense

Collaborative Divorce offers many advantages to divorcing couples, particularly financial. Courtesy US News & World Report

Collaborative Divorce offers many advantages to divorcing couples, particularly financial. Courtesy US News & World Report

For couples ready to part ways, a Collaborative Divorce can often prevent the angry, destructive results of many divorce proceedings. As reported in U.S. News & World Report, Collaborative Divorce embraces the concept that a couple once considered themselves partners during their marriage, and should be able to end it together as well, deciding how to split assets and how the co-parenting should work out in a way in which neither party feels too disappointed when it comes time to sign the divorce papers.

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego is encouraged by media coverage in publications like U.S. News, helping spread the message about the option offered to couples by the Collaborative approach.

Read the entire article at this link.

 

 

Ten Must-Dos After Your Divorce

What are the first steps to take if you're thinking about divorce? Get answers at our free workshop December 3. RSVP 858-472-2022 San Diego

Divorce must-do list by Nancy Stassinopoulos, Certified Family Law Specialist
Nancy Stassinopoulos, APC

Many couples think their case is over on the date they sign their Marital Settlement San Diego divorce attorney Nancy StassinopoulosAgreement. This is a momentous occasion, especially in a collaborative case where the entire team usually meets in a conference room to review and sign the final documents. Emotions can run high, ranging from tears to smiles of happiness that a divorce has been concluded with dignity and respect.

But wait, before you break out the champagne to celebrate with your friends, there’s more to be done. Here are ten important reminders:

  • Finish your QDROs. If your Marital Settlement Agreement provides for retirement accounts and pension plans to be divided by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, you should start working with the QDRO attorney or QDRO preparation service recommended by your collaborative attorney. In fact, most collaborative attorneys recommend that the couple start the QDRO drafting process before the Marital Settlement Agreement is signed, so that the QDROs can be signed and submitted to the court with the Judgment. Then, you need to make sure that the QDRO is served on the Plan.
  • Divide Your IRAs. The division of Individual Retirement Accounts is usually spelled out in the Marital Settlement Agreement, either as a formula (one-half to each spouse) or a dollar amount to one spouse. The division of IRAs does not require a QDRO. However, you need to contact the custodian of the IRA to request forms for the transfer of the funds, which can be rolled over into the transferee’s IRA without tax consequences. Your Collaborative Attorney or Financial Specialist will assist you if you need help.
  • Change your estate plan. You should make an appointment with an estate planning attorney. If you and your spouse had an estate plan, such as a family trust or wills, be aware that the divorce will automatically revoke any wills or trusts that were in existence on the date of the divorce. Thus, you will need to make a new estate plan. If you fail to do so, and then pass away, the laws of the State of California will decide how to distribute your assets. Also, probate fees for those who die “intestate” (without a will) are costly.   You can leave more money to your heirs with a good estate plan.
  • Check your life insurance. You should review and change the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies, to conform to the Marital Settlement Agreement. Remember, life insurance is not controlled by a will or trust. All beneficiary changes must be made in writing.
  • Change retirement plan beneficiaries. You will need to change the beneficiaries on your Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k) Plans, and pension plans, to conform to the Marital Settlement Agreement. If these accounts will be divided between you and your spouse, you will need to get that done before you can change the beneficiaries. All beneficiary changes must be made in writing, usually on a form provided by the company.
  • Change your powers of attorney. During marriage, you might have given your spouse a financial power of attorney, or a power of attorney for health care. Be sure to revoke those documents and create new ones. Your estate planning attorney can assist you.
  • Close all joint credit card accounts. Remember, on a true joint credit account, both you and your spouse remain liable for any future charges, even after your divorce is final. If you are not sure whether an account is a true joint account, as opposed to one on which your spouse is an authorized user, call the card issuer and ask.
  • Close all joint bank and financial accounts. Most banks and financial institutions will require both account holders to authorize the account closure.
  • Copy your family photos and videos. Usually the Marital Settlement Agreement will provide that family photos and videos will be copied, with the expense to be shared. Be sure to make these arrangements as soon as possible.
  • Change the passwords on all accounts. If your spouse had access to your online financial or credit card accounts, you will have to change your passwords. Remember, your ex-spouse may be able to answer security questions such as your mother’s maiden name, and obtain access to your accounts after the divorce.

This list may seem overwhelming. It is a lot of work to address these important details. But think about how much work you have already done, to get to this point in the divorce process. Don’t let it all unravel because an important detail was not addressed.

Here’s a tip: Start with the tasks you can accomplish quickly. Tackle the tasks one at a time, check them off as you complete them, and move on to the next one. You will have all this work done in no time. Then you’ll be able to relax, knowing that your future, and your family’s future, will be secure.

 

Del Mar Times: Solana Beach lawyer named president for statewide group

Del Mar Times collaborative divorce Shawn Weber

Del Mar Times collaborative divorce Shawn Weber

Attorney Shawn Weber, a former president and active member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, received coverage in the Del Mar Times/Solana Beach Sun as he assumes the presidency of Collaborative Practice California, the statewide association for Collaborative Practice.

Shawn is one of several members who plays a significant professional leadership role in his or her field. Learn more about Shawn and his work in the article or see below.

Del Mar Times collaborative divorce Shawn Weber

 

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.