Divorce and other family law cases may require the expertise of professionals other than the attorneys to obtain needed information to understand a particular issue that may be crucial to case resolution.
These experts come from a variety of backgrounds, depending on the need, and the Levitt Law Group assists clients in obtaining the professional resources they may require in any given case. The expert then works with the lawyer and client to answer questions, analyze an issue, or provide other valuable information as necessary. Not all cases require additional professional resources, and in fact some cases are quite straightforward such that with the assistance of an attorney, mediator or collaborative professional the case can be easily resolved. However, in those cases that require more, some of the experts we use on a regular basis are described below.
In some divorce cases, one or both of the parties owns or has an interest in a business, and that business interest is a marital asset. It may be necessary to hire a business appraiser to determine the value of the business interest. Business appraisers may be but are not always certified public accountants who have specific training, and have to meet specific accounting and legal standards, in order to appraise a business. An appraisal can be joint, or either or both parties can hire their own appraiser. Business appraisers can also provide assistance once a business is valued, in how to structure a transfer, buyout, or sale of a business interest in a divorce or other family law matter.
In divorce, there may be issues related to taxes, corporations, trusts and inheritances, stock and stock options, application of foreign laws, or other areas where the lawyers and their clients require additional assistance from a business consultant.
“Collaborative Coach” or Case Facilitator
A “Collaborative Coach” or Case Facilitator can be used in any case, but is most often used in Mediation and Collaborative Law. Their role is to help the parties and their attorneys manage the inevitable emotions that are part of divorce or any family law issue, which can derail negotiations and resolution by agreement. They work with the clients and the attorneys, to identify and then strategize about each client’s concerns, in order to find the most effective and efficient communication method for a positive outcome.
Clients can benefit by working with a Collaborative Coach or Case Facilitator, in preparing for and setting realistic expectations about whatever process the client chooses, whether it is Litigation, Mediation, or Collaborative Law. Being prepared helps clients make important decisions with confidence. Guiding clients in clarifying their thoughts, needs, and concerns, promotes purposeful and rational communication, helps to ease tension, and fosters understanding and ultimately agreement.
A Collaborative Coach or Case Facilitator can serve a valuable function that may lessen legal and other costs by keeping negotiations on track, allowing the lawyers to focus on legal rather than emotional issues, and by offering services “offline” with respect to parenting plans or other issues that may not require the presence of the attorneys. For more information see www.collaborativepractice.com.
Every divorce case comes with financial issues, whether it is dividing assets and income, or debt. Financial issues can be complex, and come with related problems such as taxes, business and corporate issues, division of resources such as dependency exemptions, mortgage interest, and real estate taxes, allocation of child support and/or alimony, determinations regarding whether it is prudent to keep or liquidate a particular asset such as real estate, transfer of retirement assets, analyses of settlement options, or understanding trusts or inheritances. Financial planning either during the divorce, or after the divorce, can also be crucial to the parties and/or their children’s future.
The goal of parties is often to achieve a monetary settlement that is both tax efficient and financially compatible with the needs of both parties. The use of financial professionals can be critical in a divorce or other family law legal problem.
Mental Health Professionals
Both parents have a vital role in their child’s upbringing, and each parent needs to be honored and positively affirmed. The familiar question “Who’s the more fit parent?” shifts to “What’s the best way to strengthen the child’s relationship with both parents?” Parents and children are usually better off if they craft customized agreements rather than having an outside party or court impose a ruling. Social workers, psychologists, family and child specialists, and other mental health professionals can provide expertise in family and child related matters, and help clients create effective and workable parenting plans.
The family and child specialist has competencies in:
- child development
- developmental stages
- needs across the age span
- assessment of developmental status
- the impact of divorce upon children
- the harmful effect of parental conflict
- effective parenting and co-parenting skills
- effective communication
- authoritative parenting
- the use of effective discipline
Real Estate Appraisers
In many cases where there is real estate, the parties may initially get an opinion of value from a broker in the form of a Market Analysis. This is at no cost and in some cases is sufficient. However, where there is a difference of opinion regarding the value of real estate, or the real estate is difficult to value such as raw land or farm land, a licensed real estate appraiser may be necessary. These are trained professionals licensed by the state, who provide a more detailed and comprehensive valuation than a market analysis.
Other Professional Resources
There may be other professionals that can be helpful in a case, who have special expertise in a particular area. For example, you may need a valuator of art, jewelry or antiques, or a corporate attorney to help prepare documentation related to a family owned business. During the course of representation by an attorney at the Levitt Law Group, we can work with you to determine whether any of these professionals are necessary in your case in terms of cost and benefit, and provide referral options.
We may also be able to provide you with referrals for professionals that you need for other legal services or needs that we cannot provide, in areas such as personal injury, employment, landlord tenant, or financial planning. Please don’t hesitate to ask us if you need such a referral and we will do our best to help you.