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    Finding a Smoother Path to Divorce

    moneyWhen a couple decides to end their marriage, they can face a daunting list of costs, paperwork and formalities before their divorce is finalized. One thing most should be able to agree on is that they’d like the divorce process to move along as smoothly as possible. While everyone’s circumstances are different, finding common ground can be important to making the divorce process less painful and potentially less costly as well.

    A newer development in the legal process for divorce is known as collaborative law. It is designed to help couples find points of agreement, settle issues in a more cooperative way and stay out of divorce court. The process can be effective for couples of all ages, but finding a less antagonistic way to settle a divorce may be especially beneficial when children are part of the mix.

    A Different Approach

    Divorce is often a process that is litigated between two parties, each represented by his or her own attorney. With a collaborative process, each spouse has his or her own attorney as well, but in this case, the attorneys are trying to find ways to settle issues with less contention. Legal professionals who pursue this approach are committed to finding solutions to points of dispute and both parties make a priority of keeping the issue out of the courts.

    An honest and forthright approach by both parties is crucial to this process. Open disclosure of information is fully expected. For example, both a husband and wife must be candid about money they may have set aside in any account or documents that may have been drawn up prior to or during the marriage that could have an impact on the ultimate settlement.

    Financial advisors can be involved in the process to help provide guidance through tricky issues related to joint accounts, retirement savings plans and tax implications of a divorce (although you’ll also want to work with a tax professional). The two parties should agree to the use of other various financial specialists to help, for example, conduct an appraisal on the value of the home or other property.

    Going Beyond Financial Issues

    Many people would agree that there is significant emotional stress to the entire family when a home is split apart. This is especially true if custody of children becomes part of the settlement process.

    Collaborative law puts significant emphasis on the involvement of professionals who can help families through the process. This can include mental health counselors and coaches, parenting experts, and child specialists. If the couple has children, the help of child specialists can be particularly important to help assure that the transition to a new relationship with their parents is as smooth as possible. It also is a way to give children a voice in the process and helps contribute to a more satisfactory resolution to the divorce.

    Moving on with Life

    For most people, going through a divorce is extremely emotional and complex. If the divorce process can be handled with less hostility and a spirit of cooperation, it can result in a faster resolution and one that is more suitable for both parties. This can be critical in helping divorced spouses move on with the next phase of their lives. Often seeking out help from professionals—financial advisors, lawyers and CPAs—can make the process go a little bit smoother.

    Brandon Miller, CFP, is a financial consultant at Brio Financial Group, A Private Wealth Advisory Practice of Ameriprise Financial Inc. in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals.