Legal and Financial insights

Navigating Collaborative Divorce: Legal and Financial Insights for an Amicable Split

Written By: Mike Bonacorsi & Kate Morneau


Two of the most challenging aspects of divorce come from the unknown of the legal process and unknown of how the financial picture will look post-divorce. We have teamed up to write this article from the perspective of a Collaborative Financial Neutral and Collaborative Divorce Attorney to address both of these concerns.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

The Collaborative Divorce process is a team-based approach to getting divorced. The parties work with a Coach to help facilitate the process, a Financial Neutral who helps everyone understand what financial options are available, and two Collaborative Attorneys, one for each individual. These professionals work together to assist the parties in reaching a full agreement, which can be submitted to the Court for approval.

How does a Financial Neutral Help?

The role of the Financial Neutral is to educate and help the clients understand their current financial situation to enable them to make informed decisions regarding their assets and cash flows as they work towards a solution that is acceptable to both. The Financial Neutral works with both clients as a source of unbiased information. Often one spouse is unfamiliar with the household finances and feels they are at a disadvantage; the neutral is there to help with any questions or concerns. Many cases involve complex concepts, taxes, stock options, and retirement plans, again these are areas where the neutral can provide information that can benefit both clients.

How do the Collaborative Attorneys Help?

Each individual in a Collaborative Divorce has the benefit of his or her own attorney to provide legal advice and guidance. The difference between a traditional attorney and Collaborative Attorney is that in the Collaborative Process, the two attorneys work together to assist the family as a whole. They promise not to go to Court should the process not be successful. This keeps both attorneys focused on working to find solutions rather than threaten to go to Court, something most people want to stay away from.

How Has the Process Worked in the Past?

We have had many cases together and seen some matters resolve quickly and others that have taken longer to reach the final agreement. The good thing about the Collaborative Process is that it is customizable to the individual family’s needs. Depending on the situation, we may need to take a break in order to address a major life change in the family or may need to speed things up to ensure that an upcoming challenge is handled together.

We have had situations where everything was resolved and finalized and a few years later the individuals needed to bring the team back together to address a new situation such as changes in the parenting schedule, new employment, or possible relocation.

Having a team of professionals who have seen these different situations and have worked collaboratively together in the past is key.

What are Some Tips for Choosing Collaborative Professionals?

When selecting a Collaborative Attorney, it is important to make sure that they are a trained Collaborative Professional. This is not the traditional way of practicing law and is not for every attorney. Finding an attorney that you connect with and listens to your concerns is important. Do not be afraid to meet with a few Collaborative Attorneys to see who the best fir for you may be.

When considering a Financial Neutral consider one that is Collaboratively Trained. This is someone that has been trained in the process, will act as a neutral, and work towards an agreement that is acceptable to both. The financial should also carry a financial designation for example Certified Financial Planner™, CPA as well specialized divorce training CDFA™. To maintain their neutrality the Financial Neutral will not offer to sell you investment products or services and once the case is complete will not work with you unless it concerns the case.

Conclusion

While the divorce process in general may seem intimidating at first, finding your right team of professionals will help guide your family on the right path. You can start with researching the Collaborative Professionals on the Collaborative Divorce New Hampshire website or reaching out to Mike or Kate. We are always happy to chat more about the process and provide additional resources.

Mike Bonacorsi can be reached at Bonacorsi Wealth Management, 5 Overlook Drive, Suite #3, Amherst, NH 03031, 603-769-3111, mike@mikebonacorsi.com

Kate Morneau can be reached at Morneau Law, 30 Temple Street, Suite 503, Nashua, NH 03060, 603-943-5647, katherine@morneaulaw.com

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