There’s no question that the toughest part of any divorce is the emotional component. The decision to move forward with separation is often years in the making. We deal with so many emotions, fears, regrets, and hopes along the way to the singular decision to say: This is over.
Once you reach that point and the decision has been made to divorce, apart from issues relating to children, a divorce becomes all about the money! It may sound insensitive, but it’s the honest, practical truth. Couples have spent years building a lifestyle that now has to be divided. It’s complicated. It may be the largest financial transaction you’ll ever make! As such, it’s imperative that you exert effort to be educated and fully understand the short and long-term effects, and it’s important to know that the following decisions you make can have a huge impact on the result.
Who do I talk to? Who do I trust? How do I get the best outcome for myself and my family? I wish I could say it’s a simple answer and that mediation is for everyone! But it’s not. There are many people who will need an attorney to make sure they receive what’s fair. People who are at odds with their spouse, or who refuse to “be in the same room” may never be able to come to terms without a judge intervening. But for many couples, the cost of a protracted and contentious divorce process is not practical.
In confusion we may hire an attorney hoping they’ll take care of everything. That may or may not happen. An attorney will present a case to the judge, but it’s important to ask if they’ll directly handle the financial part of the situation. The driving force for people going the “attorney route” is that they believe their financial wellbeing will be considered a priority. In reality, the next step is often hiring a forensic accountant to prepare your Financial Affidavit, sometimes to the tune of $5000+ on top of attorney fees.
At this point you have to question if the process will cost more than it’s worth. If there are significant assets involved it’s not unusual to see costs for a forensic accountant being upwards of $15,000- $20,000. If that’s any clue, you can expect your entire divorce cost to be quadrupled.
If you’re not at each other’s throats already, it’s worth considering Mediation with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst for a fraction of the cost. A CDFA is trained specifically to assist someone who is preparing for divorce. Their fees are considerably less than the fees of a forensic accountant. Your finances might seem like a quandary to you, but it’s not rocket science. If someone is presenting it to you as complicated, it might be an effort to confuse you so you’ll become dependent upon their advice. Ask someone to explain it in layman’s terms or find a CDFA who can help. The process is to calculate your assets, i.e. anything that you own, and your liabilities, i.e. anything that you owe. They’ll be divided equitably (unless it’s agreed upon otherwise). After that, we’ll evaluate your cash flow, lifestyle, current living cost, and projected cost for the near future. As you work with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, you can inquire with other experts such as your financial advisor or CPA as necessary.
At Zollinger Mediation, we provide the Certified Divorce Financial Analysis along with mediation services. We often help with alimony calculation, pension plan valuation, assistance with Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), Child Support, and valuation and division of properties and businesses.
Call Zollinger Mediation before you get on a path to financial destruction. We offer a free introductory telephone call.