Divorce involves many financial determinations – for example, what is the marital value of bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, business interests, vehicles, etc.? What do certain proposed outcomes mean on a practical level? Will you have enough income and resources to meet your expenses? What will your retirement outlook be after a divorce? Is it better to transfer certain assets compared to other assets?
These are big decisions that will affect your short-term and long-term financial picture. And the scope of these decisions is outside what most people consider on a regular basis. Depending on your comfort level dealing with financial calculations and decision-making, you may need help from a financial expert. This may mean meeting with a financial advisor to plan how to best invest assets you will be keeping. It may mean having a forensic accountant value a business interest. It may mean having an actuary calculate the present value of a pension or calculate the marital and non-marital portions of a different retirement account. Maybe you need to work with an accountant to prepare a budget.
I have practiced family law for many years and frequently encounter situations where a financial expert can either be helpful or is absolutely necessary. This is not limited to divorces involving millions of dollars in assets or extremely high incomes. Many government employees, and some private employees, participate in pension plans. Most of the time, we must have an actuary calculate the present value of those pensions for divorce purposes. If the pension or any other retirement account (including 401(k) and 403(b) accounts) will be distributed between spouses, we also have an actuary prepare the court order required for that transfer. Many individuals have not done any financial planning prior their divorce, or at least they were not the primary planner in the family. In that situation, a financial advisor can be critical for providing advice about managing monthly expenses, paying debts and investing assets.
Through my formal education and life experience, I have a basic understanding of many financial areas. However, I recognize that I am not a financial expert and it would be irresponsible for me to give clients detailed financial advice. I know enough to recognize when we need to consult an expert. My client and I then rely on that expert’s advice to make decisions. We often consult experts in our daily lives, even if we don’t consciously consider it, to handle the jobs that are beyond our training and experience. It makes sense to consult appropriate experts, including knowledgeable financial experts, when handling decisions as monumental as divorce, distribution of assets and support.
If you live or work in the central Pennsylvania area, including Mechanicsburg, Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hershey and surrounding communities and would like to discuss financial experts or any other family law or estate planning or administration issue, please contact me.