Divorce is not a legal process you want to try to take care of on your own. And while you may know you need a lawyer to navigate the process successfully, many divorces will require an entire team of individuals to ensure you get the best outcome.
Here are four of the other people who might be vital to your “divorce dream team.”
Depending on how complex your financial situation is you may need an accountant to help you navigate and understand the tax consequences both of any proposed settlement and of any judgment.
Can you ever skip having an accountant? Possibly, if you don’t own very much and your income mostly comes from W2s. If you have extensive retirement accounts, lots of assets or a business you might want to go ahead and invest in some professional advice, as everything about your financial picture is about to undergo some massive overhauls. Of course, you may want to anyway as you may not know everything. A forensic accountant can also help you uncover assets you may not be aware of. This is very important: if you don’t know about an asset you can’t account for it in the settlement.
A Financial Adviser
“But wait! Won’t I get financial advice from my accountant?”
Maybe, but the two professionals fulfill very different roles. An accountant may give you some financial advice, but it will mostly be tax planning advice. A financial adviser can help you set the new budget you’ll need when your income changes. Remember, divorce and financial difficulties tend to go hand in hand; a financial adviser can help smooth the process.
In fact, Time Money calls hiring a financial adviser during the divorce process “the difference between a workable settlement and disaster.”
He or she can also help you take a hard look at your retirement fund, think about reasonable insurance policies to take on once the divorce is complete, and help you take care of the necessary downsizing you’ll almost certainly have to work through when the process is complete.
Some clients want to use their lawyers as therapists. Lawyers are not trained to deal with the inevitable emotions of the divorce. We’re trained to deal with your legal issues, and the best use of the time you’re paying us for is to give you the very best legal representation we can.
However, we encourage you to talk to someone. Family and friends are a bad choice. Inevitably they conflate your divorce with their divorce, or the divorce of someone they knew. They give bad advice, not realizing the complexities driving the outcomes they saw. They often encourage you to stoke up your anger. Everyone wants to feel like the justified party. But anger can only serve to cloud your judgment when there are serious legal and financial decisions to be made.
Seeing a therapist can help you release some of that pressure so you can be calm and rational as you make major life decisions.
Many divorcees overlook just how many decisions they will be making. Lawyers, accountants, financial planners and therapists can guide and advise. Judges may impose. But ultimately you are the one who is going to have to live with the results of your divorce. You can’t just check out and hope for the best. You’ve got to stay active and engaged throughout the process.
That means you owe it to yourself to get educated and to do your research. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make, starting with choosing every member of your team.
Ready to choose your lawyer? If you’ve chosen us, call for your free consultation now. We’re ready to listen.