The Holistic Divorce
Recently I attended an event involving many in the collaborative divorce world, and I revisited the idea of every aspect of divorce, rather than just the legal side of it. Of course, as a family law attorney, I focus day in and day out on the nuts and bolts of legally ending a marriage. That’s my expertise. But there is far more to it than just the legal designation.
There’s finance. Real estate. Emotion. All these aspects of divorce need to be not only taken into account but coordinated in a comprehensive effort to achieve the best outcome for each client. One advantage of the formal contractually-based Collaborative Divorce process is having a professional team specializing in each of these areas for you. But I think about these issues and each aspect for every one of my divorce clients whether formally involved in the collaborative process or not.
Finance: Divorce affects finances in many ways. First, there’s the cost of hiring an attorney and paying for the legal dissolution of the marriage. A legal divorce can take months or years, and the bills can pile up.
There’s also the aspect of dividing assets, investments, bank accounts and more. The cost of losing a second income and budgeting for a new life on a single income. In some cases, when one spouse was home raising children, there’s the very real challenge of finding work to afford one’s solo life.
In every situation, a divorcing couple needs guidance on the finances of divorce from start to finish and even down the road – there can be tax implications both in the year of the divorce and going forward. It’s essential to have an expert who is savvy and sensitive to these issues in this context to guide you. A good divorce attorney will have strong relationships with financial counselors who specialize in divorce.
Real estate: I haven’t met a divorce that didn’t involve selling a property or buying a spouse out of a shared residence. Sometimes, there’s more than one real estate transaction – vacation homes, commercial property for a family business, real estate holdings as investments. Each one adds a degree of complication to a divorce, and it is essential to have a real estate expert who is familiar with the unique details of how divorce affects property ownership involved from the start.
As well, you’ll want a tax expert in the conversation because any large transaction has tax implications for all involved.
Emotion: It goes without saying that any divorce has emotion tied up in it from even before the process starts. The minute you contemplate leaving a long-term relationship that you thought would last a lifetime, your emotional outpouring becomes acute. It can be hard to walk around with such an intensity of emotions and many people are not equipped to resolve such intense feelings themselves.
Any good family law attorney should be aware of the emotional state a divorcing spouse may inhabit and be ready to refer to skilled therapists who are uniquely familiar with the process of divorce.
One of the many benefits of being involved with our legal divorce community is that I have resources and relationships with professionals with whom I collaborate to help my clients transition as completely as possible to their new phase of life. After all, isn’t that the goal?
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