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Divorce and Your Money - #1 Divorce Podcast

Visit us at www.DivorceAndYourMoney.com Divorce and Your Money is your guide to avoiding costly mistakes during divorce. Shawn Leamon, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and MBA, wants to help you learn the fundamentals of how to get a divorce. Whether you are looking for an uncontested divorce, a do it yourself divorce, or an online divorce, resources are available to offer guidance. Through his divorce podcast and divorce blog, Shawn offers his professional opinion on the best ways to handle the end of your marriage. He covers topics including how to file for divorce, divorcing a narcissist, and finding the best divorce attorney. Even tricky subjects such as a “what is a QDRO?” and “is alimony taxable?” are tackled through these venues. If you need to know what the first steps are or what you should do to head to trial during litigation, you can find resources to give you a step-by-step guide to what comes next. Think of his advice as an alternative to divorce support groups where you can find exactly what you need when you need it. He offers one-on-one divorce coaching to give you a solid grasp on the decisions that are bound to affect your financial future. Before you have a divorce decree in hand, you will likely go through some type of divorce mediation. For any spouse saying, “I want a divorce,” you need to make sure that you are getting the financial future you are entitled to. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by the emotional, legal, and financial burden that divorce can become. Instead, take control of your situation with sage wisdom to help all individuals make better financial decisions for their independent future. If you find yourself asking “where are the best divorce lawyers near me?”, Shawn can help you to recognize the best of the best. Whether you need a divorce in Texas, a divorce in Florida, or a divorce in New York, you will have all the knowledge you need to find the best team of professionals to assist you. You can start from a place of being legally separated or once you have already started to file for divorce using free divorce papers or an attorney. No matter where you or your marriage may be in the process, Shawn Leamon has professional advice to offer your unique situation. A simple no fault divorce or a high-stakes power struggle are all areas he has vast experience with during his work outside of Divorce and Your Money. Let his advice be a guide to help you get all that you need for a secure financial future in your divorce records. It will not make a difference whether you are getting a divorce in Ohio or a divorce in California if you are following the basic principles set out through Divorce and Your Money’s divorce blog, divorce podcast, and divorce coaching.
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Oct 11, 2017
In this episode, we’ll cover five things your attorney must be doing for you. If they are not doing these things, your case may be in trouble. We offer a course on managing your relationship with your attorney, because it is one of the most important aspects in your divorce. You should be concerned if your attorney is not doing any of these things:
 
  1. Your attorney does not return your phone calls, emails or messages quickly.
  2. Your attorney does not keep you informed on your case.
  3. Your attorney misses deadlines or waits until the last minute to file reports.
  4. Your attorney does not bill you regularly.
  5. Your attorney does not close the case when the divorce is over.
This is inexcusable. If you contact your divorce attorney and they do not reply within a day or two, it is a bad sign. You should be able to expect them to at least reply quickly that they have received your message, even if they are having a busy day in court or are on vacation. They may not be able to give you a detailed response immediately if it is something that they need to look into, but they should communicate that with you. If they do not, you may need to make a change.
 
This is closely connected to the point above. Your attorney should check in with you to let you know what has been going on with your case. There may be times when nothing is happening with your case, such as when you are waiting on a court date for a minor issue. However, if there are things going on, your attorney should keep you apprised of what is happening. Keep in mind that you also need to be proactive. Check in with your attorney to see if anything has happened lately.
 
This problem does not come up often, but when it does, it is a major issue. It can be hard to tell if this happens because the attorney is just bad with deadlines or if your case simply isn’t a priority for them. In a recent case we dealt with, the attorney repeatedly waited until 24 hours before a major deadline to submit key information to their client. The client then had to scramble to complete their part in time. It can put you in a bad position where you may have to miss deadlines to ensure you submit accurate information. 
 
You should be getting a bill every month, rather than a large bill after several months. This will let you know how much of your retainer has been spent, how much time has been spent on your case, and what progress has been made. The bills should be clear about what was done and how much time was spent doing each task.
 
It is very tempting to put the case aside when it has been settled. However, there are still several steps to complete the divorce: taking names off accounts, transferring assets, signing documents, and so on. You want the end of the divorce to go as smoothly as possible, and to be sure that all the small details are wrapped up. If your attorney forgets to tie up all of the loose ends, it can cause problems for you down the line.
 
If you find yourself in one of these situations, what do you do? First, make sure that you are staying on top of things yourself as much as possible. For example, check in with your attorney to see what has been going on with your case. However, if there are serious issues that keep coming up, it may be a sign that you need to look for a new attorney. These issues will probably not get better over time, and if the problems are severe, it can impact the rest of your life.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening!
Oct 4, 2017
In this episode, we will discuss your involvement in the divorce process. You can have any number of experts helping you – lawyers, accountants, certified divorce financial analysts, valuation experts, social security experts, and so on. However, at the end of the day, it is your life and your divorce, so it’s up to you to stay on top of this process. Here are some of the major areas for you to be working on:
 
  1. Complete your statement of net worth or financial affidavit.
  2. Make a budget.
  3. Document everything.
  4. Complete your interrogatories and depositions quickly and truthfully.
  5. If you are using experts, help provide context.
  6. Participate in your settlement negotiation.
 
This is one of the first steps you will need to take in your divorce process. You will need to get your financial information together for your attorney and other experts. If you make a mistake on your financial affidavit, it’s your fault. Get help with this if you need it, because the court will use your financial affidavit to determine things like spousal support, child support, and the division of assets. You can find more resources for your financial affidavit in our store.
 
Make sure you put together a post-divorce budget. How much will you have to spend on housing when your divorce is over? What will your living expenses be? What will your car payment be? How much do you normally spend on groceries and eating out? What expenses do your kids have? Your life is going to change as a result of the divorce. You will probably have less income but more expenses after a divorce, so you need to plan for these things now. It will help you keep these things in mind during your settlement so you can negotiate for what you need.
 
In divorce, there will often be he-said-she-said disputes, but if you have documentation of what happened, you can submit that information to the court so there will be no question. The method of documentation will vary depending on what it is. For transactions, your bank record or credit card statement is good documentation. For property, you may want to take a picture. Document communication that you have with your spouse, especially if there’s anything negative, like a threatening text. Documentation will allow you to present your case in a much more compelling manner.
 
Often, you will have to complete interrogatories or give depositions during the divorce process. Just make sure you do so in a timely fashion. Even if your spouse is withholding information or lying, it doesn’t mean you should. Take the high ground and provide truthful, complete information. You don’t want it to look like you’re hiding things or being intentionally misleading.
 
Experts will need context to be able to help you. For example, if you go to a forensic accountant and ask them to search for assets, that isn’t very helpful. If you can provide more context, like a business that you own that had some suspicious transactions, tell them. Give them information to work with so they are better able to help you.
 
Clarify your priorities with your attorney. Make sure you are fighting for what you want, and that you aren’t losing out on the things you need. Clarifying your priorities will also help you avoid spending a lot of money on legal fees on things that aren’t important. It’s up to you to make your wishes known and be involved in all parts of the divorce process.
The more involved you are in the divorce process, the better. It will help reduce your legal fees and expert fees if you invest your own time. Eventually the divorce process will end, so you want to set yourself up to be in the best position possible.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening!
Sep 27, 2017
“How much is my divorce going to cost?” 
 
This is one of the biggest questions people wonder about when going through a divorce. In this episode, we’ll talk about four factors that will affect the cost, some of which are out of your control.
 
  1. What you do during the process
  2. What your ex-spouse does during the process
  3. What your ex-spouse’s attorney does
  4. What the court does
 
You have control over your responses and decisions in the divorce process. If you are asked to complete a financial affidavit or if you are questioned in an interrogatory, you are responsible for answering truthfully. If you’re thinking about a settlement, you have to decide what issues are worth fighting for and what issues are worth letting go. This will have a significant impact on the cost of your divorce. Sometimes the smaller issues are worth letting go when you consider the big picture.
 
This is something that you cannot control, but it will certainly affect the cost of your divorce. You may find that your ex-spouse is not truthful or forthcoming during the divorce process. They may omit certain facts, or they may outright lie about what happened in the marriage or their finances. You will have to follow up on those issues, and may even need to hire additional experts like forensic accountants or private investigators. If this is the case, your divorce process will be longer and more expensive.
 
Earlier episodes of the podcast have discussed choosing an attorney, and why you should avoid an aggressive attorney. However, what if your spouse chooses to go that route? Aggressive attorneys lead to more unnecessary conflict, which adds to the expense of the divorce. If both your spouse and their attorney are disagreeable, you will have to spend time and money to deal with the additional conflict they create, even if you are ultimately in the right.
 
Courts are tricky. Every court has different rules and procedures. For example, in Dallas, there are three counties within twenty miles. Each county’s courts have different procedures. If the court needs a status update on your case, one county might just ask for an email, while another requires your attorney to come to the court in person to provide a written and verbal update. Your attorney still has to draft the letter, but now they also need to take the time to go to the court and speak with the judge. This will impact your legal fees as you are paying for your attorney’s time.
 
You will only have control over yourself. Unfortunately, you don’t have control over your ex-spouse, their attorney or the courts. However, you can make the best decisions possible for you given the circumstances. Focus on yourself, and making the best decisions possible with the information you have.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening!
Sep 20, 2017
This episode will cover the options you have if you own a business with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Under normal circumstances, businesses are very complicated. When you are getting divorced, it is even harder. Because this is such a complicated topic, this episode will not be able to go in-depth, but we will cover the options that you have for dealing with your business in a divorce:
 
  1. One spouse buys out the other.
  2. Both spouses continue to work in the business together.
  3. Walk away from the business entirely.
 
This is one of the most common options in the divorce world. One person retains ownership in the business, and the other no longer has any ownership, but they receive money for the value of their share. For example, let’s say you and your spouse co-own a gym, and your spouse wants to buy you out. How will that work? In a perfect world, you know the value of the gym, and you know the value of your shares. If the gym is worth $100,000, and you own half, your spouse will write you a check for $50,000. What happens if your spouse isn’t able to pay you $50,000 right now? It will become more complicated. 
 
They may offer to pay you $10,000 a year for the next five years. In that case, you may want to factor interest into the equation. You could also consider taking a portion of the profits each year. You may also be able to pull that $50,000 from another asset, like a retirement plan. There are options for how you structure a buyout. However, with most buyouts, it is difficult to determine exactly what the business is worth. There are experts who value businesses, but it is a somewhat subjective process.
 
This is not a very practical option. It can be difficult to continue to work with your ex-spouse. You may have to be around their new boyfriend or girlfriend. When work-related problems arise, the history that you have with them can amplify the conflict. This option is very difficult to execute, although people do sometimes attempt it.
 
You could sell the business or simply close up shop. There are a number of reasons to consider this option. If it is unfeasible to continue running the business, you may want to walk away. Owning a business can be a burden, and sometimes it is simpler to sell the business or close it.
 
What you decide will depend on what is best for you. Businesses are very complex. There are also legal considerations – is it an LLC, a C-Corp, an S-Corp? Who are the shareholders? What does your operating agreement say? What if investors or employees own part of the company? These are complicating factors that you will have to consider. You will need to understand the various considerations: taxes, employees, investors, etc. Make sure you handle all of these issues as cleanly as possible.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening!
Sep 14, 2017
In an ideal world, it would take a minimal amount of time to go through a divorce. Unfortunately, in the real world, divorce is a slow process. Courts are packed, attorneys are slow, and the process often takes a year or two. However, it is possible to drag it out even longer, particularly if your spouse uses delay tactics. It can make your divorce more expensive and puts you in a much worse financial position. If your spouse is out to punish you, they can do so by dragging out the divorce.
 
This episode is about some tricks that your spouse may use to delay your divorce. Also listen to episode 147, where we discussed ways to combat some of these tricks.
 
Be prepared if your spouse uses any of these tactics against you:
  1. Your spouse fails to respond to discovery.
  2. Your spouse changes lawyers.
  3. Your spouse does not communicate at all.
  4. Your spouse brings needless motions.
 
Discovery is one of the most important parts of the divorce process. It is important to understand what each spouse’s financial picture looks like. In a perfect world, both parties would be forthcoming, share their financial information, and be truthful. Unfortunately, your spouse might refuse to share information, delaying the process. They might not complete essential information. They may even lie. If several months have gone by and you still do not know what your spouse’s finances look like, it becomes a real problem. If this happens to you, you can force your spouse to react with a motion to compel.
 
Your spouse has the right to be represented by an attorney of their choosing. However, they may fire their attorney right before important court dates, delaying the hearing. It may take a month or more to get a new hearing. On top of that, the new attorney’s fees may come out of marital funds, so it may cost you money.
 
When your spouse is non-responsive, it slows down the whole process. They may even leave the state or the country. This can be dealt with through the courts.
 
This comes up with aggressive attorneys. It can be very frustrating to be on the receiving end of these motions. It drives up the cost of the divorce and adds unnecessary conflict. They may request continual extensions to drag the process out as long as they can.
 
Tactics like these can make divorce slower and nastier than it needs to be. By keeping a clear head, regardless of what your spouse is doing, you can make the decisions that will be best for you. Eventually this process will be over, so all you can do is control your reactions to end up in the best place possible.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening!
Sep 12, 2017

Why You Need a Prenuptial Agreement

You have met the person of your dreams, and you know that they are the one for you. However, now that you are getting married, all of your friends have told you that you might want to look into a prenuptial agreement before saying “I do.” The problem is that you are just not sure if you need one. After all, prenuptial agreements are only for the rich and famous, correct?

The truth is that prenuptial agreements are designed for everyone; not just those with money. In this article, you will learn exactly what a prenuptial agreement is, how they are used, and how they can be beneficial to you.

What is a Prenup?

Prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups or premarital agreements) are legal agreements that are designed to be prepared before you get married. A prenup basically outlines what property each person in the relationship financially gains, should the marriage end in a divorce.

Many people feel that if they do a prenup, they are telling the world that the marriage is not going to work. However, that could not be further from the truth.

Think of it this way: When you get insurance on your car, are you saying that you are inevitably going to get into an accident? No. You get the insurance to protect you in case an accident does happen.

Use this same rationale about getting a prenup. If the marriage ends, then the prenup will outline what you will walk away with. Or if you have assets going into the marriage, it will outline what is protected, and what your spouse will get. It is protection for you both.

What Can Be Included in a Prenup?

Each person will generally come into the marriage with their own belongings (separate property). Then there are those belongings that you accumulate while you are married (community property). Legally differentiating these kinds of property can make it easier on both of you, should the marriage not work out. In most cases, it saves arguments over many assets.

In addition, if you had a lot of assets coming into the marriage, a prenup is a great way to protect those assets. After all, you worked hard for those assets before your future spouse came along.

A prenup is also a great way to protect yourself if your partner has less-than-ideal credit, and a lot of debt coming into the marriage. Your prenup can state that your spouse assumes all responsibility and liability for any debts coming into the marriage. This way, creditors cannot come after you or seize your separate property. Again, it is like an insurance policy.

When it comes to your property, you do not want the state assuming control over determining who gets what, especially if you have separate assets. Therefore, use your prenup to put the power in your hands by stating ahead of time what each person will walk away from the marriage with.

Prenups are also a great way to list the expectations of each other during the marriage. So you can list whether one spouse will pay for the education of another, how much of a spending limit or allowance each person will get, and how access to bank accounts will be handled. If you have businesses coming into the marriage, then a prenup can be used to outline the separation and liability of those businesses.

What Cannot Be Included in a Prenup?

Now that you know some of the things that a prenup can do, let us talk about some of the things that cannot be included in this type of agreement.

Prenuptial agreements cannot dictate child-support amounts. Remember, child support is there to protect and provide for the child. The court is going to work in that child’s best interests, so they will determine what amount of child support, if any, will be received.

When it comes to alimony, most states will not allow a person to waive their right to alimony. Therefore, you will want to check your state’s guidelines, but generally, this waiver cannot be included in a prenup. In addition, prenups are a legal document, so they cannot contain anything that can be construed as illegal. In most cases, doing so would void out the prenup. Also, prenups cannot encourage someone to get a divorce.

In addition, prenups cannot be used to list things for your own personal gain, such as dictating if and when a child will be brought into the marriage, and who is responsible for taking care of that child. For instance, a prenup cannot be used to turn your spouse into your own personal housekeeper.

Remember, a prenup is designed to protect your assets; it is not meant to be used for personal gain.

Do Prenups Actually Work?

The answer is a resounding yes! The key to making any prenup effective is to make sure that you are clear and detailed when writing it. If the prenup is not clearly written and difficult to understand, then it can leave lots of room for interpretation, which is not something you want.

It should clearly outline what each person’s responsibilities and liabilities are regarding financial and property assets (before and during the marriage). Sure, things will change in the relationship over time, and there may be assets that were unpredicted when the prenup was written.

The key is to protect what you are coming into the marriage with, as well as outline the basic responsibilities of money and property in the marriage. Everything else can be handled by your divorce attorney, should that time come.

Can you afford to let the court decide if your spouse gets the house that you paid for before the marriage? What about half of the nest egg that you built up before the marriage, should it all end in a divorce?

Protect yourself, and get a prenup.

Sep 12, 2017

Filing your taxes at the end of the year is an arduous process, even under the best of circumstances. Most taxpayers are filled with trepidation at the very idea of filling out the proper forms, tallying up their total income, then having it reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service. However, the process is made even more complicated by unique circumstances (for instance, if you choose to include your child support as income. Since this form of income plays a large role in your finances, how do you plan to file?

If you are not sure whether your child support is taxable, it is time to begin sorting through the finer details required by the government during tax season. We will take a closer look at three important points that will leave you feeling more confident next tax season.

Child support is based on your income level.

When determining the appropriate level of child support, judges will often base the number on the income of the parents. While specific formulas and calculations vary from state to state, this general rule of thumb will predict the amount of child support you could receive. The income of both parents will typically be taken into account.

Because child support is usually based on your current income levels, it makes sense that many individuals and families believe that it is considered taxable income, but that is actually not the case.

Child support is not considered taxable income.

Child support is not actually factored into your gross income, and should not be added to the rest of the funds you earned that year while filing taxes with the IRS. If you know that your child support should not affect the levels of taxation at the end of the year, it gives you a little more financial security in the present moment, which allows you to more effectively plan and budget your child-support check each month. You should know exactly what the final number will be without having to account for a portion of it being owed to the federal government.

If you are the spouse who is ordered to pay child support, you should know that you will have no significant advantage. Child support is not considered a tax deduction for the party ordered to pay it. Therefore, you cannot deduct the overall amount of the payments from your taxable income when reporting your annual taxes to the IRS. You are required to report your income, including the entire money you paid out for child support to the federal government each year.

Paying child support does not entitle you to claim children as dependents.

Usually, the custodial parent has the right to claim children as dependents, as long as all of the tests from the IRS claiming exemptions are met. In order for the parent who pays the child support to claim them as dependents, additional steps must be followed. If you issue a check to help financially provide for them each month, it does not necessarily grant you the automatic ability to claim that tax credit.

In order for the noncustodial parent to claim children as dependents, they must file a Form 8332, which allows the custodial parent to release their rights to claim them as dependents on that year’s tax return. This form is known as a Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. Bear in mind that you must have a separate form for each child that you plan to claim as a dependent that year.

The custodial parent can also complete this form for a set number of years into the future. If you do so now, you can prevent hassles and headaches during each tax season. If the plan changes in the future, the custodial parent can also revoke the release of the claim to be an exemption—with a new form for each child.

Prepare for tax season early.

Filing your taxes when you receive child support does not have to be an arduous, time-consuming, and frustrating process, as many may be led to believe. It helps to plan early and know what your rights are, learn the proper process for filing your taxes to claim dependents, and accurately report your income.

If you have any questions regarding the finer details of filing your taxes following divorce, consider hiring a tax accountant to assist you. Search for a professional who is well-versed in handling situations that financially mirror your own. A good tax accountant can help you efficiently and correctly  complete your taxes, which will take away some of the pressure and burden that this time of year can bring about.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Sep 12, 2017

Vocabulary is a significant part of the divorce process, and knowing what various terms mean can make a huge difference in your progress towards finalizing your divorce. Filing on the grounds of irreconcilable differences seems to be growing in popularity. If your attorney recommends this claim, do you know what it actually means?

Find out if filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences is the right choice for you and your spouse by understanding the basics of these principles.

Irreconcilable differences means that your marriage cannot be saved.

Every marriage consists of two spouses, each of whom have their own unique habits, opinions, personalities, upbringings, all of which contribute to who they are as individual people. Those items not only contribute to their personality and character, but also can also add up to the breakdown of a marriage. Both spouses could be equally at fault for the end of the marriage in terms of dysfunctional communication.

Common issues that can lead to bigger struggles within the marriage and ultimately lead to irreconcilable differences include parenting, religion, money management, relationships with extended family members, and other day-to-day items. Irreconcilable differences means that the details of a successful, healthy future cannot be worked out between spouses, even with a serious attempt to do so, such as counseling or therapy.

Unfortunately, both spouses do not necessarily need to be on the same page regarding the likelihood of salvaging the relationship. Even if you feel like your marriage is unsustainable based on the issues you are both experiencing, your spouse does not need to agree with you in order to file for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. (This caveat may vary depending on state laws in your area.)

Irreconcilable differences means that no one is at fault.

Filing this status means that your marriage will end in a no-fault divorce, placing equal responsibility for the dissolution of your union on both spouses. Unlike other options for filing for divorce, irreconcilable differences does not place the blame solely on one spouse, or label them as being at fault for the breakup. A fault divorce can be far more difficult and time-consuming than a no-fault divorce, which means that filing with irreconcilable differences can often lead to faster divorce times, depending on your state’s laws.

A faster divorce has more than just the benefit of saving precious time when it comes to moving on with a newly single life. Particularly on behalf of a spouse who was wronged, it can save a significant amount of money on your attorney’s fees. A no-fault divorce allows attorneys to avoid the hefty time investment associated with carrying the burden of proof for whatever underlying reason ultimately contributed to the split, even if the cause was adultery or abuse.

State laws regarding irreconcilable differences will vary.

Keep in mind that each state has its own laws and could possibly even have different terminology for a divorce filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Some states may refer to it simply as a no-fault divorce. Other states may offer irreconcilable differences as the only option for filling for divorce, therefore not allowing one spouse to place blame on the other, regardless of the specific circumstances.

Laws surrounding separation when filing for irreconcilable differences may vary as well. In many cases, these types of divorces can be completed quicker than others, so there will be different separation periods based on state laws before a couple can pursue finalization. While some states offer very quick turnaround times, others require lengthier waits before the courts will accept and finalize your divorce.

In many states, splitting up your assets will not be affected by whether you file for a fault or a no-fault divorce. They are typically divvied up according to the typical standards set for your area and the agreement or negotiation between the two of you, regardless of how you choose to file for your divorce. However, filing for a no-fault divorce (as opposed to a fault divorce) could affect items such as custody, alimony, and child support.

Understand the definition.

In short, filing for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences means that you or your spouse does not believe that the marriage can be salvaged in a way that will result in a successful future together. The implications of filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences can be far-reaching, including the potential for a faster, less costly divorce process. Be sure to understand all of the state laws for your area before deciding how to file for divorce. This decision could have long-term repercussions for your future, so be certain to do all of the necessary research in advance.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Sep 12, 2017

Goalsetting is a critical component of having a successful divorce. Setting appropriate goals, even in the middle of your divorce, helps you identify where you are, versus where you would like to be. It gives you an excellent means to realistically evaluate both your present and future, and take the first few steps (be they hesitant or enthusiastic) towards your own success.

How do you go about setting the divorce goals that will lead you toward a successful future as a single individual? Every decision you make regarding your divorce should be made with your goals in mind. As such, it is important to ensure that you know the best guidelines for setting realistic goals for yourself. The following three guidelines will give the building blocks for setting the best goals for your own future.

1. Decide what you want out of life.

Do not allow yourself to get swept up in the minutiae of daily responsibilities, or get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Instead, keep your mind focused on what you want your future to actually look like. While it may seem nearly impossible in the midst of your emotional turmoil, take time to step back from the stress and envision your ideal future.

You should consider each aspect of your life, and take time to consider these kinds of questions:

  • What type of custody arrangement do you want with your spouse?
  • What type of financial supports or arrangements will you need to make, in order to achieve a comfortable lifestyle for yourself and your children?  
  • How much of your joint debt can you afford to assume? How much are you willing to help pay as the future moves forward?
  • What will retirement and investment savings look like as a newly single individual?
     
    Ultimately, you want to consider the real question at hand as you set goals for yourself: If you could live your life in any way that you choose, what would it look like in light of your pending divorce? Deciding what is important to you now can help you begin crafting that life on your own.

2. Create actionable steps for your goals.

Once you decide exactly what you are hoping to achieve, it is time to start putting actual steps in place to reach success. Select a few actionable steps that would allow you to measure progress towards your goals. They could be relatively simple things, or long-term plans broken into several steps. They could be things such as obtaining a job or a better-paying position, setting a stricter budget, reevaluating your retirement savings, or doing something fun with your children over the weekend. Putting a few steps in place (no matter how basic they may seem) gives you the ability to work toward your goals without feeling defeated during the process.

Experts recommend making goals using the SMART acronym; each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Each step that you put in place should correspond to all five of those categories in order to move you that much closer to your overarching goal for long-term success and stability.

In particular, consider setting a deadline on your specific goals, which will force you to act on your progress within a set period of time. This plan is designed to motivate you to achieve progress faster than you may otherwise be able to.

3. Have some flexibility in your goals.

Understand that sometimes things do not work out the way you plan for them to. Be willing to maintain some flexibility within your plan if things go amiss. Many individuals will want to set a few overarching goals that they would like to achieve within their divorce, and acknowledge that there may be multiple ways to achieve the same outcome. The goals may look different in your day-to-day life than you imagined, so your flexibility can come into play.

You may also want to be flexible about the fact that the goals and steps you set for yourself and your family could be more time-consuming than you originally anticipated. Therefore, be patient with the process while you continue to set measurable, attainable steps toward the goals you set for yourself.

Summary

Setting goals for yourself is crucial to helping you determine which decisions within your divorce are in your best interests for the future. Each decision you and your spouse make regarding your split will have some repercussions for your future as an individual. Your goals can help keep you focus on the bigger picture, instead of getting caught up in the details.

Keep an open mind in both your approach to each goal and the results that you achieve along the way. You may find that your goals shift as you get further into the divorce process and begin to get a better outlook at what single life will look like for you. Revising goals that no longer serve you well is acceptable, and you will want to be flexible and open to this possibility.

Goalsetting can certainly be a stressful process, which forces you to consider where you currently are, compared to where you would like to be. However, with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely goals in place, you can move toward your future in confidence, apart from your spouse.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Sep 12, 2017
This episode will cover five easily-avoidable mistakes you may make during a divorce.
 
  1. Do not get divorced without getting legal advice.
  2. Do not fail to verify budgets and statements of net worth.
  3. Do not assume your attorney will take care of everything.
  4. Do not try to get through the divorce without a support system.
  5. Do not assume you can change your divorce settlement later.
 
A lot of people think they can do a divorce themselves. Even if you are savvy, and your spouse is reasonable, you should still consult a lawyer. You may be able to hammer out 95% of the details on your own, but you want to make sure that you aren’t missing any steps. It can save a lot of time and headache later on.
 
This goes for both you and your spouse. You cannot guess on your personal statement of net worth or financial affidavit. Find exact, verifiable numbers. If you are incorrect, you could be accused of intentionally misrepresenting your finances, which can damage your credibility. Conversely, if your spouse is manipulating numbers, you will want to address it.
 
You are in charge of your divorce. It’s your life and your future. Your attorney is there to help you with the legal aspects of your divorce: navigating your local laws and formalizing a legal agreement. They are not there to review your financial information or calculate your budget – a certified divorce financial analyst can help you with those things. Your attorney is instrumental to the process, but you are ultimately in charge.
 
One of the biggest issues in divorce is the emotional component. You should have a support system so that you don’t go through it alone. That may mean finding a therapist, going to a support group, or confiding in close friends. Do not try to keep your emotions bottled up, because they may affect decisions you make during the divorce that will impact the rest of your life.
 
Many people think they can make changes later on, but that is not the case. There are limited circumstances where you can re-open certain issues, but it will always be an uphill battle to do so. The legal fees will be expensive, and it will also re-open emotional issues. Make sure that your settlement is right the first time. Sometimes it is helpful to have an outside opinion to review your case before you settle to make sure you are getting a fair deal.
 
Avoiding these mistakes will put you in a strong position to be successful for your life after divorce.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
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Sep 7, 2017
This episode of the Divorce and Your Money Show is about child support. This one of the most essential issues of divorce when children are involved. We will answer some basic questions about child support in this episode.
 
What is child support? 
It is a mandatory payment that occurs during divorce whenever there are minor children present (under the age of 18 or 21, depending upon your state). Child support lasts until the child is an adult. The only exceptions are some children with disabilities who require support into adulthood. From a tax perspective, child support is not taxable income to the person receiving it, and is not tax-deductible for the person paying it. This differs from spousal support – the person who receives spousal support pays taxes, and the person paying it receives a tax deduction.
 
Who gets child support? 
The parent who has primary custody of the children receives child support. In the case of 50/50 child custody arrangements, there is usually one parent who is considered the guardian or custodial parent. The guardian still receives some child support in 50/50 custody arrangements, albeit less than if they had primary custody.
 
Why does child support exist? 
Child support laws were made to ensure that children grow up with all of their needs taken care, hopefully living a similar lifestyle to what they were before the divorce. These laws were created when our society was different – men were the primary income-earners, and women stayed at home and raised the children. If a couple divorced, the woman was often left to raise the children alone, with little job skills to support her family. Before these laws existed, the husband could run off and not be required to pay anything, leaving his children in poverty. These laws exist to ensure children are taken care of.
 
How is child support calculated? 
Every state has specific rules on child support, so you can search online for your state + “child support calculator.” In general, the calculation depends on the spouses’ income levels, how many children there are, and sometimes other factors. These calculations usually don’t allow much leeway, except at high income levels. The laws may dictate a certain percentage of earnings be paid up until a certain income level, say $200,000. If your income exceeds that limit, your child support will be determined either in negotiations with your spouse or before a judge. However, for most people, the guidelines will be pretty firm and you have to abide by those calculations. It isn’t an area that you should fight over, because it’s not going to be flexible.
 
How is child support paid? 
Usually, child support is paid directly from one spouse to the other on a monthly basis. Some people choose to go through an intermediary. If you don’t pay your child support, your employer may garnish your wages. Likewise, if your ex-spouse is not making child support payments, you can file a claim with their employer to garnish their wages.
 
What if you are concerned your child support payments aren’t being used for the children? 
Sometimes, the ex-spouse treats child support like free money that they can use for whatever they want. If this is the case, consult your attorney. There are remedies to ensure child support is being used for the kids. If you receive child support, make sure that full amount goes towards the children’s food, clothes, schooling, etc. Document all of your child support expenses so that if someone were to ask at any point in the future, you could show how much you spent, and on what, in a given month. It can come back on you later if you aren’t clearly documenting everything.
 
This is an important topic if you have minor children when you get divorced. Make sure you know the basics of child support in your state and what to expect.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
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Sep 6, 2017
This episode of the Divorce and Your Money Show discusses the reasons to consider selling your house when getting divorced. Many people come into the divorce process with strong preferences on this issue because they have an emotional attachment to their house. This episode will help you consider all sides of the issue. It’s a good idea to think about the financial side, because your house is one of your biggest assets. Here are four reasons to consider not keeping the house.
  1. The house is a burden.
  2. Refinancing is complicated.
  3. Homes are expensive to maintain.
  4. You may end up worse off than you would have if you sold the house.
After divorce, your income as a single person will be lower than it was as a couple, but your expenses will be similar. Given this reality, can you really afford to keep the house? A larger percentage of your income will be going towards your home payment. If your home payment is very low or you live very frugally, it may be possible, but for the vast majority of people, it is not a good situation to be in. It may not be financially feasible for you to stay.  
 
If you have two names on the mortgage, it is difficult to take one person’s name off. From the lender’s perspective, they will want both people to be liable to make sure that payments continue to be made. Since your income will now be lower, it will be hard to obtain refinancing.
 
A home is more than just a mortgage. There are property taxes, utilities, maintenance, general upkeep, repairs, etc. Are you able to afford all of the expenses?
 
Sometimes, people want to keep the house to give their kids stability. However, if you are struggling to make payments, will your kids really be better off? Selling the house and downgrading can afford you more financial stability and flexibility. If your home is taking away from your income, it can put you in a tough position. It may do more harm than good.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
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Aug 31, 2017
When does spousal support end? Whether you are going to be paying or receiving it, it is important to know. Most of the time, spousal support will not last forever. State laws vary, but they are relatively consistent about what conditions cause spousal support to end. It should be written in your settlement agreement; if not, consider adding these conditions in.
 
Here are the five cases where spousal support ends:
 
1) When the recipient of spousal support dies. If the person receiving spousal support passes away, the support ends. It will not be passed along to a child or another party.
 
2) When the payer of spousal support dies. If the person paying support dies, support can end. That support may be essential to your livelihood, so you can find yourself in a very difficult position if you were receiving support. Two previous episodes of this podcast (58 and 91) discuss life insurance to cover any remaining support obligations. This is highly recommended for anyone who’s receiving spousal support.
 
3) When the recipient remarries or cohabitates with another person. If you are receiving support and you marry a new person, the support will end. In some cases, people try to get around this by living with a partner without marrying them. However, divorce settlements typically specify that if you live with a new partner for a certain amount of time, your support will end. This can be as little as 2 or 3 months or as long as a year of cohabitation. You may wonder how your ex-spouse will know if you are cohabitating. In some cases, the ex will hire a private investigator to find out.
 
4) When the payer of spousal support retires. When someone retires, they usually will not continue to pay spousal support. However, there are cases where you can end up paying support even after you retire. You can negotiate this in your settlement agreement, so think about this in advance.
 
5) When there has been a substantial change in financial situation for either party. If the person paying support loses their job for a substantial period of time or if they become disabled, they may be able to renegotiate spousal support. Conversely, if the person receiving spousal support suddenly receives a large inheritance, their ex may request renegotiation.
 
For many of these cases, you need to still know what is going on in your spouse’s life to some extent in order to know if you could renegotiate spousal support. You may not have any desire to communicate with your ex-spouse again, but you may want to informally keep up with what is going on in their life through acquaintances. If possible, it’s helpful to know if any conditions change that might affect the support obligations.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
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Aug 29, 2017
To get over 40 hours of information organized into easy topics, visit our Store. There you will find the best divorce resource in the United States – all 150 episodes of the podcast, organized to make it easy to find the information you need.
 
In this episode, we will discuss a common misconception. Sometimes, people will have an urge to punish their soon-to-be-ex-spouse in the divorce, so they look for the most aggressive attorney that they can find. Attorneys know that many people have that mentality, so some of them are marketing heavily to you in search engines. They may be paying $25 or $50 per click when you search for aggressive divorce attorneys, just for you to just visit their website. They want to persuade you to hire a tough attorney, especially when you are angry, so they can convince you that you need a fighter.
 
However, that might not be in your best interests. In some circumstances, an aggressive attorney may make sense, but for most people, it does not. Let’s face it – most people want to get divorce over as quickly as possible, with a fair result, and at a reasonable cost. Most of you just want to get what is fair, without bankrupting yourself in the process. Even if you hate your ex-spouse, you probably just want a reasonable result and to move on with the rest of your life.
 
Here are four reasons why you might want to avoid an aggressive attorney:
 
1) The divorce will be much more expensive. An aggressive attorney is going to be a lot more expensive because every issue becomes a big fight. You will always be on the offensive, submitting motions, and hiring experts. The attorney’s billable hours will pile up. What could have been a $5,000 - $10,000 divorce can become a $100,000 divorce very quickly. Your attorney will goad you into more fights, creating more expense. You may end up spending $5,000 fighting over a $200 set of silverware.
 
On top of that, you will not be able to get to a settlement very easily. Aggressive attorneys want to fight it out, drag your ex through the mud, and punish them. That punishment comes at your expense – selling your cars, emptying your retirement accounts, and double-mortgaging your home.
 
2) Judges hate aggressive attorneys. The probability that you will be settling your divorce is lower with an aggressive attorney, so you will end up spending more time in front of a judge. Judges have a good sense of the local attorneys, an over-stuffed docket, and they don’t want to spend a lot of time on any one case. This is why many judges don’t like aggressive attorneys, and find them an annoyance.
 
Picture a yappy chihuahua barking at a stranger – all bite and no bark – versus a relaxed chocolate lab. An aggressive attorney is like a chihuahua, making lots of noise about small things that don’t really matter. This is how many judges feel about aggressive attorneys. Every little thing becomes a big issue and a waste of time. It frustrates judges, and they often treat the client as an extension of that attorney. If you have an attorney that the judge likes, you can end up with a more favorable outcome.
 
3) Aggressive does not mean effective, and it does not mean tough. My favorite attorneys are pretty low-key, but they are experienced, sharp, and devastatingly effective. They may never raise their voice or show much emotion, but they crush some of the more aggressive attorneys with their tenacity. You do not need an aggressive attorney to get a good result. One of my favorite sayings is, “An empty can rattles the loudest.” There’s nothing actually in the can. Many aggressive attorneys are all bark and no bite, and don’t have a lot of substance to them. A skilled attorney who doesn’t have an aggressive style usually wins the day.
 
4) It is emotionally draining. Divorce is already tough enough, but when you add an aggressive attorney or two to the mix, it creates an all-out war. Aggressive attorneys have a tendency to misconstrue the truth. They sometimes come out with wild accusations, adding conflict to the process, and it ultimately is not helpful to their case. It may feel good at first to get fired up and try to punish your spouse, but this is ultimately a business deal – splitting up your assets, debt and property. Adding emotion to the process is not helpful. Your objective should be to put yourself in the best position possible for the rest of your life after the divorce.
 
For most people, aggressive attorneys are not a good choice. They are expensive, judges don’t like them, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up in a better place. To be fair, some situations can call for an aggressive attorney. For example, if you have a custody dispute and there is a serious mental issue, a history of abuse, or an alcoholic spouse, then an aggressive attorney might be worth considering. However, for most people, it is not the best choice.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening!
Aug 24, 2017
This episode discusses the concept of a capital loss carryover. You might not be familiar with this important term. If you have a capital loss carryover, it is a valuable asset that needs to be treated as such in your divorce.
 
What is a capital loss carryover? You may be familiar with capital gains. A capital loss is exactly the opposite. When you make an investment in a house, a stock, or a bond, you expect to make money on it. However, all investments have risk, so sometimes, they decrease in value. When you sell an investment for less than what you paid, you have a capital loss.
 
In previous episodes, we have discussed paying capital gains taxes when you make money on an investment. In contrast, a capital loss allows you to write off future taxes, which is called a capital loss carryover.
 
Here is an example with simple numbers: You have an investment, and you lost $100 when you sold it. A couple of years go by, and you have a different investment that has a gain of $30. Normally, you would have to pay tax on that $30, but your previous loss will cover those taxes for you. You will still have $70 in losses left over. However, if  you sell another investment for a $200 gain down the line, you will not have to pay taxes on the full amount. Your $70 capital loss carryover will reduce the taxable amount to $130. At that point, your capital loss will be exhausted.
 
Here is the point: capital losses help you offset future capital gains taxes. You can even write off part of your annual income taxes because of your capital loss. Because these losses can lower your tax bill going forward, they are considered an asset. Think of it as a gift card for your future taxes.
 
Therefore, it is important to be aware of your capital loss carryover during a divorce. If you are not aware you have a capital loss, you cannot negotiate for it, so your spouse would get all of the tax reductions going forward.
 
How do you find out if you have a capital loss carryover? You can find it on your tax return in Schedule D.
 
Consider seeking help from an accountant or a certified divorce financial analysist. Then you will not miss something that could benefit you.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
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2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
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Aug 22, 2017
This is the 150th episode of the Divorce and Your Money Show. There are now over 40 hours of information to help you through one of the most difficult times of your life.
 
One of the challenges with a podcast is that there is no order to the episodes. We have covered so many different topics, and it can be difficult to find the information that you need. You may be working on your financial affidavit, and that’s your only concern for right now. Maybe you’re concerned about your house, and looking for that information. Maybe you’re concerned your spouse is hiding money. It’s difficult to go through all 150 episodes to figure out which episodes are the most relevant for you at your current stage of divorce.
 
So, we have made a change. If you look at your podcast player, you will see that only the past 10 to 15 episodes are available. We want you to always have the latest information, so you will always have access to the latest episodes. However, the older episodes are now organized into key topics, so you can focus on what is most relevant to you. This way, you can get the information when you need it, such as how to negotiate, dealing with your attorney, and common mistakes in divorce. The episodes are organized into a course called How to Prepare for Divorce. It has all of the podcast episodes, including interviews with experts, for a small fee.
 
If at any time, you need one-on-one help, you can request an introductory call on our Coaching page. In coaching sessions, you will get personalized help for the issues that matter most to you.
 
Before you go, visit divorceandyourmoney.com:
1) Sign up for the email list to get exclusive tips you won’t find anywhere else.
2) To get access to the best divorce resources in the United States, check out the store here.
3) Get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening!
Aug 17, 2017

This was originally published on Divorce and Your Money here

For most couples, divorce is a confusing, stressful process as they readjust to maintaining two separate households. If you have gained your conditional or permanent green card throughout your marriage, your stress levels can skyrocket as you consider possibilities. If you find yourself facing a divorce, will you be able to remain in the United States, or will you be deported?

There are a few questions you may want to start considering in regards to your green card status. To get a head start on thinking through the possible scenarios, answer the questions below.

Is your green card permanent?

There is a significant difference between a conditional and permanent green card. A conditional green card allows for residence in the United States for up to two years, which proves that your marriage has weathered the test of time. After two years, you may apply for a permanent version.

If the divorce is finalized before a permanent green card is issued, there is a possibility that ending your marriage could remove the “conditions” of your green card, which would result in deportation. Permanent green cards offer more security because the authorities at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are no longer investigating your file or considering your case. Once a permanent green card has been issued, they have no further reason to reopen your application or file for additional review, unless you decide to apply for US citizenship.

Deciding to pursue citizenship following the finalization of your divorce could be a trickier endeavor. The USCIS will once again need to review the information in your file, and they could request documentation to support your marriage. Many individuals start to fear that their marriage could be viewed as fraudulent, used solely for the purposes of obtaining a green card. As a result, you may be denied citizenship, and the case could be referred to the court system for further actions.

Can you obtain a permanent green card if you get a divorce?

In certain circumstances, the USCIS will still allow individuals to apply for a permanent green card, even if their divorce has already been finalized. One of the main ways that an individual can continue to pursue their permanent green card (even with their marriage dissolved) is to provide proof that they entered into the marriage in good faith, rather than fraudulently.

The USCIS will require you to provide proof that you maintained a real relationship with your spouse and had every intention of remaining with them, barring outside circumstances. You may be asked to provide evidence surrounding the end of the marriage, as well as any records of your attempts to repair the relationship (such as marriage-counseling records). Depending on the reason for the divorce, you may submit evidence or affidavits pertaining to abuse, adultery, or other situations that arise from irreconcilable differences.

How do I file taxes if I have a green card?

Taxes relating to divorce are always tricky, but they can be even more cumbersome if you are a green card holder. Individuals with this status are sometimes referred to as tax citizens, meaning that they are required to report all of their income to the US government, even though they do not hold official citizenship. Income must be reported, even if it is earned in your home country or elsewhere. However, this report does not necessarily mean that the income will be taxed by the US government.

Tax laws surrounding this field are extremely difficult to navigate, because of their many intricacies. To help handle taxes in these types of situations, consider adding a professional onto your team. A tax accountant can be a valuable asset to help you properly file your taxes in a sticky situation.

Find someone who is experienced dealing with tax citizenship and income earned abroad. Inquire about their experience and training, and take careful note of their customer service and personality. Be sure to also ask how billing is handled. Will you charged hourly, by a set fee, per phone call or visit, or by some other type of arrangement?

Divorce with a Green Card

Ending an unhappy marriage does not necessarily have to mean moving back to your country of origin. Do you have the right evidence that your marriage was real, but the differences between the two of you were too great? Then the authorities may still issue you a permanent green card, or even US citizenship.

If you are considering a divorce under these circumstances, make sure that you are prepared for all of the documentation that you may need. Therapy records, information about your marriage counselor, and any relevant history regarding your children will support the reality of your marriage, and it will be extremely helpful in building your case. Divorce can be significantly easier when you are adequately prepared for what lies ahead.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

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Aug 17, 2017

This was originally published on Divorce and Your Money here.

Deciding to end a marriage is not an easy decision—because it is such a huge life change, and there are so many layers to a divorce (such as emotional, financial, and legal). Having every base covered can be difficult. Many people make mistakes that can leave them in a terrible position, which they could never have foreseen.

If you have decided that your marriage cannot be saved, it is imperative that you act now to protect yourself from every kind of damage that other people have already suffered because they did not have foresight.

It will take some work, but you can avoid all of this damage. With the right preparation and help from professionals, you can take control and have confidence in moving forward with your divorce.

The very first thing you need to do is hire an attorney. However, there are things you can do on your own that will keep you ahead of the game if you cannot immediately afford a lawyer.

Keep a Record of Everything

During your interactions with your spouse, try to stay as even and unemotional as possible. If you let your emotions take over, it can lead you to act in a way that could come back to haunt you in court. The best way to handle things is to walk away, and try your best not to react to any button-pushing or argumentative behavior.

But remember, turnabout is fair play. Therefore, make a record of any and all negative behavior from your spouse. Record every phone call, save every text and email, and detail every argument they start, especially if it occurs in front of your children. It does not matter how minimal an argument seems. And of course any threat or form of abuse (whether emotional or physical) should undoubtedly be recorded; if severe enough, a police report should be filed.

Get notarized letters from friends/family/acquaintances/coworkers/colleagues who have observed you as a family and can back up your side of things. If the divorce goes to court, these letters will serve as character references and witness statements that you can file as affidavits. It is important to have them ready to go, because things can move very fast once the divorce goes full-throttle.

Finances

Organize all of your paperwork. Immediately cancel any joint credit cards and/or other lines of credit. If your spouse refuses to cancel them, then see about getting your name removed from the accounts. You want to avoid being responsible for any spending sprees. Also, make sure you have an individual bank account.

Be certain to get all copies of:

·      Any joint financial and/or investment accounts.

If you can, divide and close the accounts. If dividing is an issue, put the money in a trust account until the divorce is concluded. Conversely, you can take out whatever you can prove you have a right to, and open up an individual account for that amount. Once you have taken this action, make sure you notify your spouse by sending them a notarized letter.

·      Tax papers, both joint and individual.

·      Health insurance.

·      Important legal documents, such as wills, trusts, and/or prenuptial agreements

·      Property documents

·      Your credit report and credit rating.

·      Proof of income

·      Any receipts of luxury items or big purchases that were bought for the home or family.

Examples include cameras, computers, cars, boats, and vacation homes. Try to come to an agreement about selling them and splitting the money. This action takes the pressure off fighting for these items, or having them being considered community or family property. Once these declarations have been made, you will not be able to sell them.

·      Paperwork for any shared safe deposit boxes.

Calculate

·      Your total income and your spouse’s total income

·      Your individual assets

·      Your debts, both joint and individual

Your retirement account might be on the chopping block. Stop any contribution to this account until everything has been settled. Your spouse will most likely have a right to a percentage of what is currently in it, but anything put in after the divorce settlement will be yours.

Any valuables that you can prove you own individually should be removed from the house. To avoid damage due to revenge or retaliation, it should then be stored in a safe place.

Custody

Decide whether or not you are able to stay in the house. It is important to note that the spouse who stays in the house has the advantage regarding custody. However, your emotional health is of the utmost importance. You have to be able to stay balanced and not break down in any way that can be used against you.

If you are not able to stay in the house alone, see if you can work out a shared living situation, including a schedule. That way, you are both able to live in the house but minimize chances of encountering each other.

Make sure the notarized letters mentioned earlier discuss positive aspects of you as a parent.

Make a formal agreement between the two of you for shared custody during the divorce. If you can work it out with your spouse before the divorce and custody hearings, things will go much more smoothly.

If you cannot agree, then go to a mediator. If you go to family court, it is important to show a willingness to compromise and work with your spouse. If your spouse is unwilling to compromise, record every detail of the situation. Show that you wanted to compromise, but your spouse refused.

Do not settle for less than joint custody. It is very difficult to get a better custody settlement later, so you need to immediately get the best settlement you can.

Emotional Health

To help you stay balanced, look into a therapist who specializes in divorce. They can offer an objective view of things. Most of them will also teach healthy coping mechanisms, so that you will not fly off the handle when things get emotional.

To help you gain perspective during such an emotional time, research an experienced divorce professional. They can help you avoid bad decisions that you might not anticipate working against you.

Any sentimental items should be treated the same as valuables. Store them in a safe place outside the house. Examples include photos, keepsakes, and cards.

Divorce is an emotional time. You will encounter a lot of history, memories, and feelings of betrayal, which can make things very confusing. If you have all of your ducks in a row, it will go a long way in avoiding the mistakes that this kind of confusion can cause. Protect yourself now, and you can avoid a lot trauma that many people have suffered when they acted without foresight.

Most people do not realize that they have more control over their divorce than they realize. Now you can apply that knowledge.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

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Aug 17, 2017
Being served divorce papers signifies the beginning of the end. Unfortunately, it does not always mean that appearing in court will necessarily happen quickly. Finalization could be months or years away, even after you have divorce papers in hand. In the meantime, what should you do to make the most of this time?
 
Preparing for the inevitable end of your marriage can give you a feeling of control. But it can also assist you in receiving all that you are entitled to as a participant in your marriage. Taking charge of the situation during this initial phase can give you a successful start toward a favorable resolution to your divorce process.
 
Once you are served with divorce papers, what do you need to do first? Here are a few tips for getting started on the right path:
 
1) Get organized.
 
When it comes to finalizing your divorce, you cannot underestimate the importance of organization. Begin by using this time to gather pertinent documents, including tax returns, bank statements, and information about retirement savings accounts. The more work you can do at this stage without the pressure of a time crunch, the more thorough you can be at assembling and gathering everything you need.
 
This stage could also be a good time to begin thinking through which assets or properties hold significant value to you. Is there a piece of furniture you want to claim in the settlement? Make a list of these items now—without the heat of spousal squabbles. Then you can more easily clarify which items are most important to you.
 
2) Assemble your team of professionals.
 
Depending on the complexity of your divorce, you may need to hire quite a few professionals to assist you. Team members may include an attorney, a certified divorce financial analyst, a forensic accountant, or a private investigator. Be sure to do research to determine which professionals have extensive experience in their field and great customer reviews.
 
You can also use this time to consider how much of the work you will be doing on your own. Some prefer to file their own paperwork, or you can just work out a settlement negotiation with your spouse. Others find their divorce to be more complicated. Therefore, they may need the assistance of an attorney to go to trial.
 
Knowing how much you want to complete on your own and how much you plan to spend can assist you with hiring the right professionals for the job.
 
Remember that the people you hire to handle your divorce are there for a purpose. It will be a business relationship, and should be managed as such. Select professionals that you can work with well, as you could be spending a large amount of time and money with your team.
 
The professionals you hire are the people responsible for assisting you in receiving the best possible settlement. These decisions are crucial for the future of your financial security, and they cannot be overlooked.
 
3)If possible,try to open the lines of communication with your spouse.
If possible, healthy communication can certainly speed up the process of agreeing on a settlement or a custody arrangement for your children. When a healthy level of open communication is possible, the process can be easier, less emotionally taxing, and significantly faster.
 
The more you and your spouse can sort out between you, the less involvement you will need from attorneys and other team members. If you open the lines of communication, both of you will typically have an easier negotiation and lower attorney fees.
 
However, under certain circumstances like abuse, bullying, or manipulation, you should not even consider communication. In these kinds of situations, allow the team you have assembled to handle most, if not all of the communication between the two of you.
 
4)Take care of your own emotional health.
Even though divorce is an extremely emotionally turbulent time in anyone’s life, the professionals you hire are not there to hear about your feelings. Instead, you hire them to handle the facts, and create a favorable divorce settlement; that is truly all you should be sharing with them.
 
Therefore, you will need to find another outlet for the emotional response triggered by the impending end of your marriage. For some, this outlet can be as simple as talking with friends over drinks, or taking a yoga class to practice mindfulness.
 
If you have a smaller support system, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a professional therapist. It may be worthwhile to consider seeking professional help to find coping skills if you feel overstressed.
 
Over time, the burden of extreme emotional distress can take a toll on your physical health and psyche. Sorting through your feelings can improve your well-being, and it can allow you to participate in your divorce process with a calmer demeanor and more level head. This mindset allows you to be firm during all the negotiations that are involved after being served divorce papers.
 
Early in the process, take control.
 
Being served divorce papers truly is the first step toward finalizing the end of your marriage. And it is the start of something new. You will quickly discover that there are a lot of items on your to-do list that require your attention. By taking control of the situation now, you can enter the rest of the process with increased levelheadedness and a sense of calm.
 
Take the first steps towards securing a financially healthy future in your soon-to-be single life. Once you are served divorce papers, it is time to take control of your life. Following these steps will help you before the divorce process even begins.
 
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 15, 2017
When your spouse has a disability of any type, it adds an additional layer of stress to your divorce. Now this already emotionally tumultuous time is filled with extra responsibilities and concerns that must be addressed before your divorce can be finalized. If your spouse has a disability, you will need to contemplate whether they have the long-term capacity to support themselves without your assistance.
 
When it comes to divorcing a spouse with a disability, what do you need to consider first? Here are the first three questions you will want to start answering now:
 
1) What level of service do you currently provide for your disabled spouse?
The first thing you will need to do is accurately assess the amount of assistance that you provide for your spouse. Think about all of the things you do for them on a daily basis, including driving them to appointments, helping them shower, and running errands for them. After the divorce is over, these items will still need to be completed, even after they are living on their own.
 
In order to assess your own role in their care, consider making a detailed list of activities that you regularly assist them with. Make a list of the items that they could perform on their own, as well as the ones they would be incapable of completing without the assistance of another person. An honest evaluation of their abilities will help you answer the next question with more accuracy.
 
2) Will your spouse need additional services?
Without your daily assistance in caring for them, your evaluation of the level of service you provide them with should help you determine if they will need additional services in your absence. In order to continue their daily care in your absence, you may need to add professional services to maintain their standard of living.
 
What will the exact arrangements need to be? There could be some level of involvement from family or close friends, combined with professional services. Arrange for a part-time or full-time caregiver, or at least obtain a few estimates of what the overall expenses will be for them to continue their daily care. Now is a great time to begin considering whether your spouse can cover the costs of their current income on their own, or if they will need government assistance.
Based on their newly single income, your spouse may qualify for social security and disability, which can greatly assist the two of you to figure out how to cover the cost of their care without obligating you to continue performing it day after day.
 
3) Can you afford spousal support?
Are you a significantly higher earner, or is your spouse incapable of earning enough to support themselves financially due to their disability? If so, you may end up paying spousal support to contribute towards their necessary care.
Because your spouse has a disability, your required level of spousal support could typically be higher than the general population. Spousal support is often mandated to help cover the cost of services and care that your spouse will not be able to afford, based on current income or benefits.
 
Spousal support is often considered permanent in these situations, at least until your spouse has a change in disability status, remarries, or receives new or additional benefits, which would change the necessity of your spousal support. The severity and type of their disability will certainly play a role in determining the monthly amount of spousal support.
This scenario is also possible: you may be required to pay for their health insurance or assist with medical bills, in addition to paying spousal support. As a part of your divorce agreement, you may be able to keep a spouse on an employer-sponsored healthcare plan.
 
Divorcing with a Disability
It should be no surprise that divorcing a spouse with a disability is likely to entail a greater degree of planning than may otherwise be necessary. Remember, to start off on the right foot, make sure you have a thorough, accurate understanding of what you currently do for your spouse, as well as what would need to be done in your absence. Solutions can vary from having the assistance of a family member to hiring a caregiver.
 
While you should not remain in a failing marriage that makes you unhappy, you will definitely need to consider the higher rates of spousal support. Alongside your spouse, begin investigating what additional benefits or programs they qualify for, and assess what you can reasonably afford on your income.
 
Divorce is difficult, even under the best of circumstances, but adding a disability into the equation creates a new level of difficulty. By answering these three questions in advance, your current divorce will begin on the path towards future freedom and financial security for you and your spouse.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 10, 2017

Divorce is painful; there is no question about that. It is a devastating shakeup of any life. The more painful it is, the more people want to know: “How long does it take to get over it?”

The answer to this question depends on several factors:

·      The length of the marriage

·      How close you were

·      Which spouse filed for divorce

·      Whether or not infidelity was involved

However, the length of time is ultimately up to you.

Divorce is an adjustment. You have to find a way to adapt to your new reality. Oftentimes, people want the pain to be gone quicker than the natural process allows, which could actually result in the process taking longer.

Here are some tips to help make the process work for you. Then you can hopefully move on, and find happiness in your new life faster.

Grieving Is Essential

To move on from any painful ending, you have to do the work. If you keep your emotions hidden or ignore the grief from any life change, it will only makes things worse in the long run. And more often than not, you will remain stuck.

Let yourself feel the pain. When you feel like crying, find a quiet place as soon as you can, and let the tears out. Every tear you shed is a release of emotion, and grief helps you slowly move forward as you let more and more out.

Take it one moment at a time. A huge change like divorce is incredibly difficult and painful. We are creatures of habit, and when something obliterates the life that we have become comfortable with, it creates a yearning for the life that we once knew. And that yearning makes adjusting to a new life much more difficult.

The only way to get through the whole process is to get yourself through each moment. One moment leads to another, and pretty soon, you will realize that you have made it through days, then weeks, then months. Your stamina and your ability to adapt to your new life will increase during each moment. Then one day, you will realize that it hurts less, and that hope has returned to your life. You will have the ability to be happy again.

Do not forget to remind yourself that a relationship takes two people, so any divorce is not the sole fault of one person. Since pain gives your viewpoint tunnel-vision, we tend to forget that there are two people involved, and nobody is perfect.

Ask for Help

Talk to friends about what you are going through. They can help you move through your grief by validating your pain, helping you find a healthy perspective, and taking your mind off things.

See a counselor or therapist. They are trained to help you find healthy coping mechanisms, which are the most valuable takeaways of therapy. They can also help make sure that you do not fall into depression.

Seek advice from a Divorce Coach who has worked with all kinds of divorce situations. They can help you avoid disastrous situations, save money, and find the best ways to heal. As an objective observer, your Divorce Coach will be able to validate you because they specialize in what you are going through.

Find an Escape

This advice does not include doing anything careless or reckless, but it will help you to take a break from your grief every once in a while. Your life cannot be all about your divorce. While you should not let a break parlay into long-term avoidance, it can be a good way to adapt to your post-divorce life.

Remember, it is good to take your mind off of your divorce, and a break can help you get through each moment as you build your stamina in your newly single life.

Here are some ways to temporarily escape your divorce:

  • Going to dinner with friends is a simple way to get your mind off your divorce.
  • Meditation has been proven to keep your brain in a positive state.
  • Go on a short vacation, by yourself or with friends. It is a good way to hit the restart button.
  • Hobbies and interests will be hard to maintain, but if you can, try to keep up with them. They are healthy ways to give your brain a break.
  • Exercise raises the endorphins and makes you feel better about yourself. This tactic makes it easier to stick with healthy coping mechanisms that a therapist and/or Divorce Coach will teach you. It leads to a higher sense of self-worth, which will also help speed up your recovery from divorce.

It is understandable that you would want to know a timeline: When will the pain caused by your divorce stop? However, it is not easy to gain the knowledge about how long it takes to get over a divorce. But if you do the work, stay in a healthy place, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will find yourself in a better mood before you know it.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

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Aug 10, 2017
Sometimes in divorce, it feels like one spouse is dragging their feet and the divorce is taking too long. Your spouse may be causing delays: rescheduling meetings or court appearances, requesting an extension, or taking a long time to give you information that you need. In some cases, it may be your spouse’s attorney that is slowing down the process, either as a deliberate strategy or just out of incompetence. You may feel helpless in the face of these delays.
How can you speed things up?
 
There is no silver bullet for these issues. Every locale has its own rules and procedures, so you’ll have to check with your attorney to see if the options below will work for your situation. Be aware that it’s important to document everything. Document every email and phone call, every rescheduled meeting, and every time you follow up on something and do not receive a reply. If you ultimately go before a judge, you can bolster your case by showing that your spouse or their attorney were causing delays.
 
There are four options that may help you to speed up your divorce:
 
1) A motion to compel
 
In broad terms, a motion to compel is when the court sets a date for your spouse to reply to a specific request or to provide documentation that you have asked for. If they missed that date, they can be held in contempt of court. Often the penalty will be a fine, but there are other consequences that can follow. For example, the court may place an evidentiary restriction that limits the evidence that your spouse can provide for their case. The most extreme penalty is jail time. If you’re waiting on a specific request, see if a motion to compel is an option for your situation.
 
2) Settlement conference in front of a judge
 
Although it’s often preferable to avoid going to court, there are times when it can be beneficial. A settlement conference will allow you to meet the judge, test out a few arguments with them and get a sense of how the case would go if you end up resolving it in front of the judge. A settlement conference can be good motivation for your spouse to try to look as good as possible, so they will often address any outstanding requests shortly before the settlement conference so they don’t look like they’ve been ignoring you.
 
3) Subpoena a third party
 
In some cases, you need information that is held by a third party. As an example, let us say that your spouse has worked for a particularly employer and has a retirement plan at Fidelity. You need information about their retirement plan, but your spouse is taking forever to get that information to you. In this case, your attorney may be able to subpoena Fidelity to get those records. There are some legal technicalities, so check with your lawyer if it will be an option to get information that your spouse is not providing willingly.
 
4) Default judgment
 
If your spouse has repeatedly been missing deadlines, you may have the option of asking for a default judgment. This means that if your spouse fails to respond for a certain period of time, the court can issue a judgment of whatever you ask for (within reason). The non-responsive spouse’s side will not be considered. It can take a long time for a default judgment to happen, and there are restrictions in place to protect your spouse, but it’s worth looking into if there hasn’t been movement on your case.
 
When it comes to divorce, there is no easy solution. Unfortunately, some things in divorce just take time. It can take 3-6 months between court appearances in some places, particularly if the courts are backed up. However, if your spouse or their lawyer is actively slowing down this process, and you have documentation, bring these options up with your attorney. You may be able to force the process to move forward.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 8, 2017

 

 
What happens when you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement regarding your divorce settlement? While this scenario does not occur in every case, there are certain circumstances that make negotiating a settlementimpossible. One spouse may more stubbornly hold to their opinions, or outside views could influence their willingness to negotiate crucial items from the marriage. When this situation happens, a trial is an inevitable way to solve the conflict.

Before you head to trial, there is a lot of advice surrounding what you should do, how you should act, and what you may experience next.

However, there are definitely a few things you need to think through before allowing your case to go to trial before a judge. What specifics do you need to consider before you head to trial?

A trial is full of risk.

Unlike the other methods of divorce, going to trial leaves your entire settlement up in the air, which puts you and your spouse at the mercy of a judge—with no easily predictable outcome.

Litigation takes away some of the control that you experience from more amicable methods, such as dividing property, assets, and other marital items. Settlements can be decided prior to a trial, which gives you the utmost control over what happens with your finances, your marital home, and the custody of your children.

During a trial, this degree of control is stripped away and handed to a judge, who has the ability to make any decision that he or she chooses. Even if you and your attorney feel that the issues surrounding assets and custody are clear-cut, a judge could make an unforeseen decision.

Laws are in place to safeguard all parties involved in a divorce case, and judges are supposed to remain neutral and objective, while listening to the facts and details of the case. However, the end result still remains uncertain, compared to other methods of divorce.

A trial can put significant strain on your finances.

Divorce is hardly ever an inexpensive process, but heading to trial has the potential to add thousands of dollars onto your final bill. Paying an attorney for their time spent preparing a case, their hours spent in court, court-filing fees, and other items can take a serious toll on your overall finances and rack up an exorbitant bill.

The more items you can settle with your spouse prior to heading to trial, the better your bottom line will be when the divorce is finalized. In advance, consider which items are your biggest priorities. They may include heirloom furniture, sentimental items, or valuable pieces of property.

In order to avoid wasting extensive amounts of expensive time that your attorney can bill you for, knickknacks and other items of inconsequential value should be decided on prior to trial.

The best idea is to attempt to keep the trial focused on the bigger items that you and your spouse cannot agree upon, such as your marital home, retirement accounts, finances, alimony payments, or custody issues.

Keep in mind that you can make a settlement at any time, even during the final moments in court. If your spouse becomes willing to negotiate, this last-minute endeavor could help save you significant amounts of money on the day of your trial.

A trial requires lots of time and preparation.

Make sure that you understand everything your attorney presents to you. You will be asked to review numerous documents, including your filing paperwork, your bills, and your trial strategy.

To achieve overall success in trial, it is critical to keep yourself informed and familiar with the evidence, witnesses, and testimony that you will be required to provide in court. This preparation is a time-consuming endeavor, but you should consider all of the ways in which you may need to prepare yourself prior to trial. Consider practicing with your attorney, and regularly reviewing the list of potential questions they will ask.

Self-representation requires far more preparation and a greater time commitment when things head to trial—even more so than a typical trial that would have an attorney at your disposal. This preparation is even more pertinent if you will be representing yourself. In this situation, you will need to know the local rules, fill out the required paperwork, and familiarize yourself with the proper procedures for introducing witnesses or evidence into the trial.

You may also be up against a well-prepared, experienced attorney, who will not cut you any slack due to your own inexperience.

However, while representing yourself, you can significantly save on the overall cost of divorce.

Making the Final Decision

Going to trial to settle the final details of your divorce can certainly be a nerve-wracking experience. Make sure that you understand each aspect of a trial (including the potential outcomes) prior to making the decision to pursue this avenue. A lack of information can lead to uncertain outcomes, as well as a greater commitment of your finances and time.

While some situations make avoiding a trial impossible, remember to factor in your ability to settle until the end of your actual day in court.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

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Aug 8, 2017
"Many times people oversimplify what’s needed before they put the house on the market. There are all these little things that ultimately get caught by home inspection that will later turn into a negotiation that very rarely favors the seller. What I advise people to do is get a pre-inspection and have the home looked at by an inspector.” - Max Townsend
 
In this episode we interview Max Townsend, a licensed real estate agent in Texas. Max shares great details about how to sell your home during divorce, and he provides some key tips for moving on and getting a new place after divorce. Max covered a lot of ground we’ve never discussed before on the show — and some great advice most people don’t know about!
 
You’ll definitely want to listen to this episode. 
 
To learn more about Max Townsend, check out his great site at http://maxtownsend.com/. Be sure to sign up for his great newsletter! (Seriously — it’s great!)
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 3, 2017

This was originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.

Hiring an attorney can be cost-prohibitive for individuals who are in the process of seeking a divorce. However, many people still find it to be too intimidating to tackle the finalization of their divorce through the court system on their own—without legal assistance or guidance.

In lieu of placing a divorce attorney on retainer, some couples are now more interested in hiring a divorce paralegal to assist them. These professionals can help you fill out and file the correct forms, and they offer several different services at a reduced rate, compared to an attorney.

How do you know if hiring a divorce paralegal could be the right option for you? To get a thorough understanding of what they can offer, consider the answers to these three questions:

What is a divorce paralegal?

A divorce paralegal is typically an assistant to an attorney. Some of them are directly overseen by a divorce attorney within the same office. Others may work independently, based on their personal experience, education, or training.

Keep in mind that a paralegal does not have the right or ability to offer legal counsel throughout the process. That job function is exclusively performed by attorneys, so you may want to consider keeping an attorney on your team of professionals if you feel you will need legal advice. A paralegal also cannot represent you in court if your divorce is headed to trial.

The right divorce paralegal should be able to help you proofread and prepare any necessary forms. They are typically experienced and well-versed in knowing which forms are necessary, and where they need to be filed, based on local rules and regulations. If you feel you may struggle in this area while trying to handle your divorce on your own, a paralegal may be able to provide the correct level of support for you.

What should you look for in a divorce paralegal?

First and foremost, consider the obvious attributes of a potential divorce paralegal. You will be spending quite a bit of time with this professional, so make sure that you can work with their personality and attitude.

Evaluate their customer service skills, their responsiveness to your phone calls and emails, and their commitment to knowing the details surrounding your unique situation. You also do not want to underestimate the importance of cleanliness in their office space, as well as the friendliness of their reception staff and other coworkers.

From here, you should seek out professionals who maintain an official certification from a well-accredited program or association. Examples of highly recognized programs include those endorsed by the American Bar Association (ABA) or the National Association of Legal Assistants. They may also be licensed or registered within their field, depending on your state’s rules and regulations.

You will want to hire someone who specializes as a divorce paralegal or in other family law matters, instead of someone who has experience in a vast array of areas. This tactic ensures that their knowledge and training is more finely tuned than it might otherwise be. When selecting the proper divorce paralegal, referrals from family members and friends who have utilized their services for their own divorce can also be of value.

When should you use a divorce paralegal?

A divorce paralegal is just one option among many for finalizing your divorce. Therefore, how do you know if your situation will allow for this type of divorce? If you and your spouse are going to have a fairly simple divorce process, a paralegal may be able to provide a sufficient level of support for you—with just a little more assistance than you would have had with a do-it-yourself divorce. This type of divorce is best for individuals who have no kids, little to no property, and few financial obligations that need to be split between spouses.

Hiring a divorce paralegal is a good compromise; it is in between a do-it-yourself divorce and hiring an attorney. It can reduce some costs on the final bill, especially compared to hiring an attorney. Keep in mind that these savings are available because divorce paralegals provide a low level of assistance and no legal advice, in comparison to an attorney.

Choosing the Right Divorce Professional

Because each divorce is prompted by unique circumstances and individuals, it is impossible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all method for finalizing a divorce. Each professional and approach has some benefits, depending on the situation. A divorce paralegal is a great way to save money on a potentially expensive undertaking—especially for couples who can remain relatively amicable, and need only a simple divorce with few assets to divide between the two.

Ensure that you are hiring a properly credentialed professional within the field. Having the right professionals on your team is crucial to the overall success of your divorce, as well as your financial future. With the right research and guidance, a divorce paralegal could be a great addition to your divorce team.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Want more free divorce advice and tips?

Subscribe to the Divorce and Your Money Podcast, trusted by over 50,000 people across the United States.

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