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Beth Kraszewski named as Top Best-in-State Woman Wealth Advisor by Forbes

Divorce team shaking hands.

Assembling an amazing divorce team

You don’t go through a divorce alone. 

Family and friends will be there to give you emotional support and prop you up as you go through the long and time-intensive process.  Your coworkers will help you manage all of your work responsibilities as you’re being pulled in many different directions. And those closest to you will be there to make sure that your home and family is taken care of while you deal with the details. 

But just as important as those closest to you who are going to help you through this, is the team of professionals that you’ll bring together to stand by your side. You won’t have the same personal connection to them, but they will be just as committed to helping you through this and making sure you’re making the best decisions possible. 

In fact, the fact that they aren’t as close to you or your marriage is going to be helpful for you, as they can be unemotional and clear-headed about what will work best for you in terms of the separation of assets and custody issues. 

Who should be the members of your divorce team? Read on and find out.

A divorce lawyer

No surprise with this first member of your team. If you’ve ever seen one TV show or movie about a divorce, you know that the divorce lawyer will become a major part of the proceedings. Heck, Laura Dern recently won an Oscar for playing a divorce lawyer. Unfortunately, they are often portrayed as aggressive and mean-spirited, but in my experience that’s almost never the case. 

A divorce lawyer is going to look out for you and be the most important person to have on your team.

What is a divorce lawyer?

A divorce lawyer or attorney is a licensed attorney that specializes in family law, who will represent you throughout the proceedings of the divorce. This person will have experience with issues of child custody and visitation questions, separation of assets, as well as child and spousal support. He or she will work to ensure a fair outcome that aligns with what you want and with the law.

The process can be legally complicated, which is why you’ll want someone familiar with all applicable laws. It can also be contentious, which is why you’ll want someone skilled at negotiating and presenting your side of an issue, especially if your spouse has a lawyer. 

What does a divorce lawyer do?

When you hire a divorce lawyer, you are asking them to protect your rights and help handle the custody and financial negotiations that may come up through the process. He or she will explain the law to you and help you understand and choose the best legal options.

Divorce lawyers spend a lot of time reviewing your situation, particularly your income and assets. They may seek the help of a certified divorce financial analyst to help, which I’ll talk about more below. 
The most important thing a divorce lawyer can do is to listen to you and understand your objectives, then fight for you. Sometimes you hear stories or see a portrayal of an attorney in a movie or show who only cares about getting the biggest settlement they can. I think this is uncommon—I’ve never worked with a lawyer who didn’t have their client’s best interests at heart. You want an attorney who will help you figure out what a good outcome is for you, and then work towards that.

A divorce therapist

Above all, divorce is an emotional rollercoaster. Sure, there may be a few divorces where the couple realizes quite calmly and logically that the marriage is over and goes about splitting up their assets in a calm and logical way—but I’ve never seen one. 

Most divorces qualify as among the most significant life events that either person will go through in their lives. And that’s why I think it’s essential for anyone going through a divorce to see a therapist.

What is a divorce therapist?

A divorce therapist is a licensed professional counselor who has dedicated most of his or her career to helping people with relationships and navigating the end of a relationship. 

There are many different types of support a divorce therapist can provide, and it really depends on where you are in the process and what you’re looking for. A therapist can help you process the emotions you’re feeling as you go through the divorce. You’re dealing with a loss and starting over and a therapist can help you handle the myriad of emotions that come with that.

In addition, some will work with you and your spouse in a couples setting to help you both navigate setting up a new life for yourselves and your family. Some may help you deal with the communication and interpersonal challenges between you and your ex, relatives, in-laws and children. All of them provide an outside perspective and a caring, unbiased viewpoint to help you move past your married life and into a new stage.

What does a divorce therapist do?

Dealing with emotions while you’re also dealing with big decisions can be a recipe for disaster. That’s where a divorce therapist can really help you. They won’t make those emotions go away or disappear, but they will give you tools and techniques to manage those emotions and keep them out of your decision-making process. 

A divorce therapist is in your corner, working with you to help you be the best version of yourself through a very trying time. They also offer objectivity, helping you see your situation clearly, without emotion, to avoid making mistakes. 

Finally, a divorce therapist can help you transition from your old, married life and into your new beginning. Many women have told me, “I don’t know who I am by myself anymore,” and a divorce therapist can help you figure that out. And speaking from personal experience, every woman who’s said some version of the above quote to me has figured out that they are much more than the person they were in their marriage. There is always room to grow.

A certified divorce financial analyst

Many couples may have experience with a financial planner, and you may want to turn to that person as you start the divorce process. As I’ve pointed out before, so much of the divorce process involves you and your spouse’s finances, so you’re right to seek professional advice. But a financial planner who has been trained to handle all aspects of a divorce will provide you with more expertise. 

That person is called a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA), and he or she has been trained to look out for your best financial interests throughout the divorce.

What is a CDFA?

A certified divorce financial analyst is actually an accreditation that a financial planner has to study for and earn in order to achieve that designation. It is issued by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts and requires many years of relevant professional experience. 

I had to take an exam to get certified, and it was an in-depth test that covered just about every situation I’ve ever faced. And in order to maintain my certification, I need to keep up with 30 hours of continuing education every two years. The certification ensures that the financial analyst is extremely knowledgeable.

And all of that testing and continuing education is important, because every divorce brings with it its own challenges. The job of a CDFA is to help you navigate the divorce process and protect your financial well-being for both the short-term and the long-term. We work with you and your lawyers to help you understand the financial aspects of the divorce and help you make smart decisions about splitting up your family’s assets and help you plan for life after the loss of a shared income. 

How is a CDFA different from other financial advisors?

All financial planners need to have an expertise in financial planning and accounting, a CDFA also needs to understand divorce law. Think about all the aspects of the divorce that involve money and that’s a snapshot of the areas I have to be knowledgeable. 

It’s rare for a financial planner to meet with anyone but their client. It’s not uncommon for me to have meetings with divorce attorneys to help them understand the financial ramifications of the terms they’re negotiating. 

In addition, I’ve noticed that one of the greatest services I can provide is helping someone going through a divorce by being a calm, level-headed voice during a hectic time. You can trust a CDFA to have your best interests at heart throughout the process. 

What does a CDFA do?

To put it simply, we help you split the assets of your marriage. 

That includes putting a dollar amount on all you own and all of your debts, including the home you share together and your retirement accounts. We can help you determine the amount you will need in alimony and child support, as well as for how long. 

And even after the divorce is finalized, a CDFA can help with preparing for the tax implications of all that you and your spouse agreed to, and helping you create a budget for after the divorce. 

Stronger together

Just because you are going from married to single in a divorce, doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. By assembling a team of professionals—along with your friends and family who will provide much-needed emotional support—you give yourself the best chance to make the process smooth and come out on the other side with a result you will feel good about.

Image credit: Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

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