Having a neutral financial professional on a collaborative team can make a big difference in how easily your collaborative case is resolved because the financial professional can help clients understand their assets, assist with tax issues related to the divorce as well as provide advice moving forward, and adjust to their reduced financial circumstances post-divorce. However, many clients resist adding a financial professional to the collaborative team because they worry that he or she will add to the cost of the divorce. In fact, a neutral financial professional can save money when doing a collaborative divorce because they are efficient, they avoid the costs of paying two attorneys to collect the same financial information, and they can explain difficult financial concepts to the clients in a neutral way that helps resolve issues. To avoid clients saying no to adding a financial professional to the team, it’s important to discuss what the neutral financial professional can do for clients and the benefits of adding a neutral financial professional at the very beginning of the case.
Discuss What Financial Professionals Can Do for Clients.
Listing all the things a neutral financial professional can do for the clients at the beginning of the case will help them see the advantage of having one on the team. One important thing a neutral professional can do is collect and organize complete financial information about the marital estate, including back-up documentation. Also, he or she can prepare a financial report and spreadsheet for the team and clients. The neutral financial professional can also provide cost savings by meeting with the clients without both attorneys being present, saving significant expense. He or she can also educate one of both clients about their financial situation so they can make informed financial decisions about, current cash flow activity with proposed savings and spending alternatives after the divorce, as well as the division of the marital estate and their financial future. The financial professional can help clients develop options for settling the case, be available to discuss budgeting, taxes, and the outcomes of various financial settlement options. The financial professional can also level the playing field by correcting any power imbalance when one client knows more about finances than his or her spouse. The financial professional can be a voice for the client who is hesitant about discussing finances because he or she doesn’t understand money and how it works. He or she can also address worries about hidden assets, anticipate potential financial problem areas and offer suggestions for dealing with them. At the direction of the clients with their attorneys support, the financial neutral can help with various complicated concepts such as identifying separate property and/or tracing, which may generate difficulty in acceptance if coming from one or both of the attorneys. Finally, the neutral financial professional can discuss the tax consequences of various settlement options.
The Benefits of Having a Neutral Financial Professional on the Team.
The financial professional provides essential financial information to help clients appreciate what’s important about their money and to help them feel comfortable about their financial future. He or she also can supply a comprehensive spreadsheet that contains all the marital assets for the attorneys to use in drafting the collaborative settlement agreement. By being on the team from the beginning, the financial professional can anticipate and avoid financial problems rather than having to fix them after the fact when they are usually much worse and more difficult to resolve. By being on the team at the beginning, the financial professional is available to communicate with the team and the clients at any time. He or she also can relieve one or both attorneys from having to deliver bad financial news by discussing the reality of the clients’ financial situation with them jointly as a neutral professional, rather than an advocate for one client. The financial professional can also meet with clients to explain their assets and educate them about money. He or she can collect and organize financial information in an easy to understand format and develop a spreadsheet to show the effect of various asset / liability divisions. The financial professional can facilitate discussion of the clients’ financial goals and interests and helps them understand how various settlement options impact their financial well-being post-divorce.
For all these reasons, it’s important to discuss with your client at the very beginning of the case why it’s helpful to add a neutral financial professional to the collaborative team.