Your divorce may not “take a village,” but assembling a good team of key professionals will make a big difference in the outcome. Depending on the complexity and unique aspects of your divorce situation, you should consider hiring the best experts you can afford to assist you in navigating the divorce process. Consider this an investment in yourself, your family and your future, and well worth the effort and expense, in my experience.
For example, I usually advise my clients to engage a therapist. Divorce is an extremely emotional process. If at any time in your life, now is likely the best time to talk things over with a therapist. You also don’t want to treat your divorce attorney like your therapist. That really isn’t a good use of his or her time or yours. And you don’t want to use up your retainer fees sharing the minute details of your split with him or her. In addition, if children are involved, they too could use an experienced family therapist to help them put things into context and gain a better understanding of what’s happening.
You will need a seasoned family law attorney who is experienced in divorce. In Texas, I would recommend a Board Certified family law attorney because this degree of expertise puts these professionals ahead of the game in qualifications.
For your divorce finances, I recommend at the very least, a consultation with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. You can set up a consultation with a CDFA even before you engage an attorney. Some of my clients work with me first as a neutral financial expert to help them get their settlement details worked out before they see an attorney. Most often, I am part of the legal team as a financial analyst representing one of the spouses in the divorce process. It all depends on your situation and needs. On many occasions, I also attend formal mediation with my clients and their respective attorneys to crunch numbers on settlement offers, providing short- and long-term projections on how specific assets and debts will impact the client.
The expertise provided by Certified Divorce Financial Analysts has become increasingly important as the financial landscape gets more complex. I’m often being brought in by divorce attorneys who realize their client could benefit from my knowledge and insights. Few attorneys have the training to advise divorce clients on income tax laws, or other very high-level financial rules surrounding divorce. For example, time and time again, I’ve found that asking the right questions about a spouse’s employment situation, or reviewing key documents will often lead to little known benefit packages, retirement accounts, and investments that would have been overlooked. I also provide lifestyle, cash flow and financial goal analyses that bring “reality” to light for many spouses.
Most individuals simply don’t consider how finances will shake out post-divorce based on how settlement assets and debts are divided. This is very important, especially for women. And I have specific spreadsheet formulas that will show this over time. Here’s another example: have you considered the cost and structure of healthcare, auto, home, life or disability insurance after the divorce? Perhaps this should be considered when working out the settlement agreement.
Engaging the right mix of professionals as your divorce team and respecting their areas of expertise is a solid investment in your future. Knowledge is power!