How will I know which financial documents are important to settle my divorce?
If you are working with an attorney, he/she will have their specific list of standard documents they will request from your spouse’s attorney. Those documents range from closing papers on your house to 3 years’ worth of tax returns to financial statements like bank and retirement accounts. If you are working with an established attorney they will know what is necessary to obtain.
If you are settling your divorce directly with your spouse, there are some key documents you should obtain copies of in order to negotiate your portion of marital assets/debt. Any and all bank and credit card statements are at the top of the list; tax returns going back as far as you can obtain copies (you may be able to call the IRS and request them to fax you copies); yours and his retirement statements to include 401(k), 403 (b), TSP (thrift savings plan), pensions, stock options, and annual employee benefit statements; end of the year W-2’s and 1099’s to prove income. If all of these terms don’t make any sense, then make copies of anything you can find in the house that has numbers on it.
What will it cost me to use your services?
On this site there are many resources ranging from free to packages and one on one virtual meetings and phone conversations. This site has been designed to help a wide range of budgets. One client may have millions of dollars of marital assets to divide, while others are lucky to just have a little bit of debt. No matter what your budget will allow, you will find my blog, YouTube videos, webinars, Divorce Stories, helpful forms, and so much more available here to help you ‘Get Your Head Straight Before You Negotiate’ your divorce settlement.
What if I don’t want to go to court? Do I have other options?
Yes! There are other options available, but it depends on your state laws, so you might want to check with a local lawyer before you dive into any negotiations.
Mediation: Some states may require mediation if you and your spouse cannot agree on issues before you go to court. Other states do not require it. Check with a local attorney for the laws in your state. If you choose to go through the mediation process, regardless it is a cooperative process in which you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, called a mediator. The mediator can be a lawyer or may be required to go through court approved mediation training. This process can save some of the financial costs versus a contested or lengthy divorce proceeding. The mediator helps the two of you define and resolve your issues to reach agreements. You exchange information, identify issues, negotiate with one another, and prepare your documents directly with the help of the mediator.
Collaborative: In collaborative divorce, both spouses hire their own attorneys, one neutral financial professional and one neutral mental health specialist that work together as a team to reach an out-of-court settlement of all issues. The shared goal is to reach an agreement that meets the needs of the family members and avoids the financial and emotional costs of traditional litigation.
Lawyer negotiation/litigation: Litigation is the traditional legal process. Both spouses hire attorneys to provide legal advice and advocate for their client through negotiation and court hearings. The spouses generally communicate through their lawyers regarding their positions, proposals and counter-proposals. If you have a spouse who is aggressive, domineering, controlling, dangerous, etc., then this is the only way to go. You need protection and someone to fight for you!
Pro Se: Pro se means ‘for oneself’. Some people call it ‘kitchen table’ negotiations, since you represent yourself throughout the divorce legal process. You can come to an agreement, but I highly recommend having at least one lawyer representing one party and drafting the final agreement. You can still save money, but you will save yourself time in the court room in front of the judge with a properly written divorce decree.
How can I use you to help with my divorce negotiations?
Have you ever used the phrase ‘knowledge is power’? That is how I can help you: through my blog posts, YouTube videos, webinars, divorce terminology, downloads, Divorce Stories of real women who have survived divorce, forms, and so much more. I teach you how to ‘Take Back Your Divorce’ through knowledge of financial assets, how to negotiate, how to make a budget, how to uncover hidden assets, what questions to ask your attorney/spouse, and put it all together in a format that makes sense.
What is a CDFA?
CDFA stands for certified divorce financial analyst. Professionals who have been working at least three years in the finance, family law and/or accounting industry can apply for the certification through the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts™. We are required to take continuing education classes every year to keep our certification in good standing. This certification was established in 1993 even though many attorneys have never heard of it.
CDFAs can make a difference in a divorce settlement by saving time, money, avoiding long-term pitfalls, assist in developing budgets, post-divorce financial struggles, and can reduce the amount of apprehension and misunderstanding of the divorce process.
Can you help me with taxes?
We are not CPAs or accountants; however we can uncover potential tax consequences with our Family Law Software™. If you need a CPA check out their national association or ask around for a referral. If you will be receiving alimony we highly recommend working with a CPA right away to explain quarterly estimated tax payments and how it will affect your current tax situation.
Will I be okay?
This is our most commonly asked question. With proper discovery with your attorney, uncovering of hidden assets, negotiations, proper budgeting and post-divorce planning, we can help you decide if you will be okay. After your divorce we don’t want to send you on your way without guidance. Ask us about other services we provide after your divorce has ended.
How will I know how much alimony I will get or how much I will have to pay?
Every state has different laws on alimony, so it is best to consult with a qualified family law attorney to get the most accurate answer. But we can help you with producing an accurate budget. We find that most people don’t have a budget let alone know how much money they spend. In this day and age of automatic bank drafts, online payments and debit cards, many people don’t know how much it costs to run their household! Let alone how much disposable income they have.
Typically alimony is taxable to the recipient and tax deductible to the payer. So having an accurate budget is crucial to the recipient. When you negotiate alimony, not all of the money will go towards your household needs, you will need to put some aside to pay taxes and don’t forget savings! This is where we can teach you how to develop an accurate budget with supporting documents to give to your attorney. We will take your bank statements, credit cards statements and receipts to recreate a historical accounting of your expenses and income (or lack of) used to cover these expenses.
What about child support? How much will I get and for how long?
Every state has different guidelines for determining child support. But typically they look at both parents income to determine child support which will usually run out when your child graduates high school. We recommend carefully checking the temporary or final order to fully understand how much, for how long, when, and how often you will receive child support and the ramifications for non-payment!
My family left me an inheritance, do I have to share that with my soon to be ex?
Typically inheritance is yours and not to be shared. But many spouses will mix inherited money and assets with the marital accounts. Be careful before you do this and talk to a qualified family law attorney, CPA or financial planner before comingling your inheritance. Every state has different laws on separating marital assets including inheritance in a divorce.