October 25 , 2016

Financial Neutral in Divorce

Hiring two financial experts generally causes a duplication of effort and costs since a financial expert in court is supposed to be neutral. So, depending on the circumstances, most people will benefit from hiring a “neutral” financial expert.  These professionals are supposed to offer an unbiased fact-based opinion that needs a two sided approach. If they are only getting information from one source the opinion reached may be different than if they had the benefit of speaking with both parties.

If parties can agree up front to hire a neutral financial expert, they can save on fees and have the benefit of a holistic analysis that communicates both parties’ experiences, knowledge and concerns.  If one spouse hires an expert they share only their viewpoint on spending patterns and needs.  A one-party advisor is sometimes needed when complex assets like businesses or stock options are involved. However, in many cases the values of balance sheet assets are known to both parties and a financial neutral provides the best value and approach to negotiation.

  For example, let’s say you have been told by your attorney that your case looks like alimony may be required.  Alimony is normally a two-step calculation.  First, you have to determine what the “needs” of the recipient spouse are.  Needs are derived from the marital lifestyle analysis.  Then, we look at what the recipient spouse is either earning or should be able to earn to help pay their needs.  Any remaining deficit is then reviewed and may possibly be the amount of alimony that is requested.

Two households as opposed to one will clearly increase costs.  In many cases this requires both parties to reduce spending in other areas to pay for the increase in the household costs. Additionally, one of the best reasons to use a neutral financial expert is in the long-term benefits.  When parties have a neutral financial advisor helping them resolve their dispute it reduces adversarial conditions and the end result is understood and, even if reluctantly, accepted by both parties.  With this common understanding they can make better joint decisions in the future regarding their children and costs for things they require.  Without a solid financial plan that both parties have bought into at the outset reduces the need to go back to court for the dreaded “modification” and facing more legal expenses and the cost of time spent away from work and other activities.

Finally merely having a financial expert assisting attorney’s with their role greatly reduces legal fees that increase costs exponentially and can bankrupt some parties or put them in a position of financial distress. You are in charge of your divorce process (i.e., you are the CEO) and should make appropriate decisions for best possible outcome for you and your children.