Collaborative Practice utilizes a team approach to the divorce process. As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), I want to share with you how I see tremendous value in a team approach to asset division.
The typical litigation model using a divorce attorney includes a listing of your assets and a “reasonably fair” division worked out by the attorneys, but the result might not address your interests (needs, wants, wishes, and concerns.)
Mediation takes the parties interests into account because they are in the room with their mediator as the decisions are made.
There are a couple downsides to mediation, though. First, the opportunity for creative solutions around complex assets like the house may be limited. Second, while mediation may include input from experts, rarely is all the knowledge in the room at the same time. The process is likely to achieve a more mutually satisfactory outcome, however awaiting information from financial experts can result in a longer, more expensive, process.
This is where the team approach comes in.
A team brings all the disciplines together in one meeting to allow well-informed decision making. The attorneys bring knowledge of the law and the court while the neutral financial professional brings knowledge of the asset characteristics, an awareness of possible solutions to evaluate division of assets across different types (e.g. retirement fund trade for the partner’s share of ownership in the house). The divorce coach brings a keen awareness of the emotions involved when dividing assets in a divorce, and can assist clients in finding or calming their “voice” to promote a more expedient and mutually satisfactory solution.
The team approach may seem cumbersome and more expensive if you do not consider the full process.
Before the negotiation meeting, the clients meet with their coaches and the financial professional to prepare. The coaches’ role is to help each client determine what is important and why. The financial professional’s role is to identify, classify, and assist in the valuation of assets. When the big meeting happens, everyone comes prepared and the team environment supports the clients in making thoughtful decisions in a peaceful manner.