In the process of divorce, the issue of money is not only important in the current situation, but can lend to opportunities to put yourself on a productive path subsequent to the process.
How does a neutral financial professional (NFP) help in the Collaborative process? Let’s explore. First, the NFP works for the process, and not either party. Neither spouse is created equal, but they are treated equally. Most likely, there is inequality in the handling of the family finances, even in the knowledge of the makeup of the marital estate.
Next, even if there is comfort in the knowledge of marital estate finances, there is an extremely high sensitivity around money, primarily based on the uncertainty surrounding what the future financial situation holds. An unbiased third-party perspective can help with the emotional component of an already difficult situation (working through the emotional component with the assistance of the Mental Health Neutral). This neutral perspective is helpful regardless of the savviness of the individual or the unsophistication of the situation.
Another consideration is the proliferation of the complexity of the financial matters, including those that may currently be present or, not to be dismissed, those that are waiting in the future, such as Social Security.
These are some areas that a NFP can be of help, but the work within the Collaborative team is another benefit. Although this benefit is not always directly witnessed since much of the Collaborative work is done outside client involved meetings, a trained NFP can be a catalyst to a successful outcome.
Of course, the matter of resolving all financial issues does not rest on the NFP alone. When it comes to finances, clients can add tremendous value. For example, structuring a budget can be performed independently. Sure, an NFP can help guide the exercise, but this as well as ensuring the right insurance coverage, ample savings, and debt servicing are all within the client’s ability. Also, as much as this work is performed by the clients, it generally helps mitigate costs and keep the process on schedule.
We have heard the expression “It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle.” H.L. Mencken’s response is “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money”. There are many interpretations of the reactions to money. A look to Andy Griggs with his lyrics in the first verse of the “It’s All About The Money”:
“Cadillac on the interstate
Ran a biker in the ditch
Big city lawyer calls
Says, ‘son I’m gonna make you rich
Just put your shoulder in a sling
And your neck in a brace
We’re gonna take his butt to court
An take everything he makes’
Cause it’s all about the money”
Not my words; just an emphasis on the principle involving money. As money brings about a myriad of responses, a Neutral Financial Professional can help bring a sense of attention to disconcerted circumstances.
This article is from Richard D. Soat, a San Antonio-based financial professional with BDO (a professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services) and a board member of the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas. The opinions expressed on this site are Rick Soat’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of BDO USA, LLP