In addition to your lawyer, other experts can play an important role in achieving the result you want. An accountant who's experienced with matrimonial litigation can be essential for evaluating your spouse's income and assets, advising you on your own financial status, and handling the tax consequences of divorce. There are also divorce financial planners who assist with establishing budgets and assessing settlement packages.
When it comes to custody and visitation issues, a therapist who has a background and training in handling divorce cases can be crucial to working out a suitable arrangement for your children. You may also want a therapist with whom to discuss your own emotional issues.
Other experts may be needed to get the best possible settlement. For example, if a business is involved, an appraiser or valuation specialist may have to be called in. Good planning suggests that you address the need for all these professionals in advance. Ask your attorney what additional assistance may be required.
Put this team in place as soon as possible. They'll help you anticipate potential problems in advance, and minimize their impact. As your divorce moves forward, it may be harder to gain access to the data they need to help you most effectively.
In one divorce case, McAdams Law was retained by a woman who was initially receiving $350 a month in child support under a prior settlement from her ex-spouse, for their ten-year-old daughter. When she discovered her former husband declared in excess of $300,000 annual income in the USA, derived from his international commodities exchange business, she sued him in Manhattan's Family Court for upward modification of his child support obligation. After initiating this case she came to McAdams Law, and the firm represented her in moving forward.
The litigation went on for two years and McAdams Law used expert witnesses to challenge his "explanation" for why the company went out of business after he was sued. He then agreed to pay her legal fees, the child's private education through high school, college, and graduate school, and to increase his child support payments by a multiple of five. Knowledgeable experts were crucial to achieving this outcome.
To be uninformed or misinformed in divorce proceedings can be deadly. The outcome of your divorce will have a significant bearing on the quality of the rest of your life. Mismanaging any aspect of it could cripple your opportunity for a good future, along with your children's. Therefore, it pays to spend the time to become educated by asking good questions, preparing well and assembling the best team in your corner you can.
It's important to hire a financial professional to create your budget. You will have to produce a schedule of living expenses to arrive at an agreed upon figure for both temporary and long-term maintenance. It's wise to have a financial professional assist you in generating this document. Otherwise, you may find that a miscalculation leaves you with insufficient funds to live on, and puts you at risk. The cost of retaining a financial professional is minimal in contrast to future economic devastation because you forecasted your needs inaccurately. Hire a professional with experience in divorce planning.
Have a financial professional evaluate your settlement proposal. Many long-term factors have to be taken into consideration in analyzing whether the offer is a good one. A workable plan takes into consideration how financial needs change over time. The future impact of inflation on the cost of living is a factor few couples understand in a concrete way, and requires a computer generated financial analysis to effectively calculate and comprehend. Your divorce settlement must last a long time. For your own safety, you need a written, carefully projected, professionally produced financial plan.
Keep taxes in mind. Don't agree to any asset split arrangement until the after tax impact has been calculated. Your tax situation may be quite different from your spouse's. The goal in dividing income and assets is to see that they are fairly, though not necessarily equally distributed. That can only be determined once the tax implications for each party are carefully explored.
Also, be certain to insure your plan. If your ex-spouse dies prematurely or becomes disabled, it may cut off your settlement income. Make life and disability insurance part of the package. That way your financial security will be intact if your partner dies, or suffers a serious injury or illness.
Never sign any agreement you don't understand completely. When you are asked to review any proposed agreement, photocopy it and then sit down with a highlighter and a ruler. Highlight anything you don't understand, then meet with your attorney and ask for an explanation. Insist the sections that are unclear or seem ambiguous be re-worded into plain English that is understandable to you. If necessary, ask your lawyer to draft and add language that includes specific examples of how an agreed upon item is supposed to work. If you leave room for other interpretations, it can work to your detriment in the future.
Consider hiring an independent custody advisor. Many judges appoint a custody evaluator at the start of a custody case, and will often rely heavily on this expert's advice. Good strategy is called for in these circumstances. If you hire your own independent custody advisor to assist with developing a court strategy, you can be coached on the best approach to dealing with the evaluator the judge appoints, and have your expert review the reports provided to the Court for weak spots.
Courts determine custody according to what is in the best interests of children. To win custody, you'll have to show the Court that you are the more capable and nurturing caretaker of your children. That takes preparation and planning.
To do this effectively, provide evidence of how much time you routinely spend attending to your children's needs on a day-to-day basis. A calendar is a good tool for this. For example, if you have a baby, do you change the diapers, handle all the feedings, etc? Demonstrate a record of time spent with your children, including your attendance to school events, recreational time, vacations, etc. Include especially time taken off from work to take care of a sick child, or extended periods away from your normal employment to be home with children.