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Monday, March 2, 2015

Assembling Your Divorce Dream Team


You may have heard a divorce dream team consists of unforgiving child custody evaluators, genius forensic accountants, and pitbull lawyers. If you are gearing up to spend over $100,000 in litigation, you may be right.

For the 95% of us who don't have (and/or refuse to spend) this type of money, if you are contemplating or going through a divorce, here are the people you SHOULD be working with:

1. Therapist: To help you deal with changes, stress, and anger.
2. Lawyer: To give you a best/worst case analysis, to represent you if you have to go to court, to educate you on family law.
3.  Mediator: To find a solution without fighting.
4.  Parenting Plan Coordinator: This is mediator who specializes in custody issues - if you have children.

Therapists save you money in a divorce.  Expensive divorces are not caused by RICH people with lots of assets.  Rather, they are caused by ANGRY people who want to fight.  Angry people are blinded by their fury, and intent on destroying their spouses.  Angry people will willingly spend thousands of dollars to prove worthless things, and then accuse their lawyers, therapists, mediators of wrong-doing.  Angry people will unnecessarily prolong their divorce.
Look, you are going to be angry at some time in the divorce.  You should be angry! I am all for letting out all that steam - you don't want any of that toxic stuff bottling up inside.  But don't be angry at the people who are trying to help you. Therapists are best equipped to deal with angry people. They went to school for this, and are trained to handle anger.  I'm a lawyer, and I certainly can't handle angry people. They drive me batty.  I don't know about you, but my helping heart grows cold when people spew angry fires at me.  (self-defense).  I can't whole-heartedly do my job for angry people.

Lawyers also save you money.  Expensive divorces are caused by people who are ignorant of the law.  Your lawyer can and should educate you.  For example, you should learn from your lawyer that California is a community property state. Thus, all property and debts acquired during the marriage and before the date of separation is community.  Even if you are completely angry with your spouse for cheating on you, don't let anger affect your rational thinking when dividing the assets - i.e., she still gets half of the community portion of your 401k; she still gets half the equity of the home you bought during the marriage.  Your lawyer should also advise you that spousal support is an obligation.  Thus, even if your cheating lying no-good husband left you for that hypocrite skank at church who teaches Sunday School, just suck it up and pay the alimony for half the length of the marriage.

Mediators also save you money.  Once you know you have to divide your stuff, and have to pay alimony, the MEDIATOR should help you decide the amount, and for how long.   Financial issues should always be resolved sooner or later.  Obviously, if your spouse runs his own business, or has massive undisclosed accounts, you may need to spend some money to ascertain these accounts.  But after the numbers are out, rather than fight over which number to use - it is 100%, without exception, cheaper to settle sooner than later. You do NOT want to be the sucker that spends over $40,000 to find an account that had only $30 in it.

Parenting Plan Coordinators also save you money.  Custody is perhaps the ONLY issue that I believe could understandably take a bit longer to resolve. If there are custody issues which don't involve drug/alcohol or child abuse/neglect, rather than litigating from the outset, it is highly recommended that you hire a Parenting Plan coordinator to help you reach a parenting plan that will work with your family.

Choose your team wisely.  Educate, mediate, and meditate.  You can absolutely control how much money you spend in your divorce.


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