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By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT
We’ve often heard, “If getting married was as complicated as getting divorced, there would be fewer marriages – and fewer divorces.” Divorce requires decisions about finances, taxes, real estate transactions, child development, and many other areas of need.
When most attorneys are managing the divorce, they will have fees for guiding outside experts (who also charge fees) through the process. Now double that for each spouse’s representation. Some alternatives, such as collaborative divorce and mediation, will reduce attorney fees, but the best agreements are ones based on having the most information. This is where specialists come in. Would you be comfortable with your general practitioner doctor performing open heart surgery on you?
Many specialists may contribute at reasonable (sometimes without any) fees. Among the experts that can be helpful are financial specialists. This might be your business or tax accountant or a financial advisor. Investment advisors have a lot to offer when thinking about retirement and investment portfolios. You may already have one on your team if you have investments.
In complex cases, a forensic accountant may be necessary. But often your regular tax guy can help. Insurance agents, seeking your business, will provide free advice on health plans, auto insurance and types of life insurance as security for support obligations. Many mortgage brokers and real estate brokers will be able to offer ideas on a family home or the resettlement of the spouses. When there are children, family therapists or child development experts can be invaluable.
Managing the stress and anxiety can be eased with personal therapy, support groups, family and friends.
In addition to the live experts, research can be a great team player. There are many books on divorce (we routinely recommend our clients buy How To Do Your Own Divorce in California from Nolo Press) which provide background in preparation for the business of divorce. The internet is filled with valuable information on every aspect that divorce encounters.
Each case is unique and the talents of each spouse will dictate how much help is needed. Good results come from a team approach. As team manager you just need to hire a good coach (attorney or mediator).