When you are navigating the divorce process, you will likely need assistance from one or more professionals. This may seem daunting at first, but our group aims to provide you a starting place from which you can assemble a team of experienced and compassionate professionals to fit your needs. The below list is not exhaustive but represents the professionals that you will most commonly encounter when going through a divorce.
Family Law Attorney
Some people believe that they will save themselves money by not hiring an attorney and representing themselves in a divorce. This is usually a mistake and often ends up costing them more money in the long run because they did not know they were legally entitled to support, or they did not know about a significant marital asset that was in the other party’s name. Having an attorney, who specializes in family law, can often mean the difference between resolving your case in a fair and comprehensive manner or fighting with your spouse years later for rights that should be settled at the time of the divorce.
When hiring an attorney, keep in mind that many attorneys that have general practices still bill themselves as family law attorneys, even though they may only handle a few family cases a year. Additionally, do not feel compelled to stick with the first attorney that you meet or even with the attorney that is currently representing you, if it is not a good fit. You should feel comfortable and confident in whomever you choose to represent you. If you wish to speak to our group’s family law attorneys, please do not hesitate to contact them at Ulrichsen Rosen & Freed LLC (Wendy M. Rosen, Esq. or Lauren K. Beaver, Esq.).
Wills, Trusts and Estates Attorney
In addition to a divorce attorney, parties often need to rewrite their wills (or establish wills) in conjunction with a divorce. This is necessary because you likely do not want your estate to pass to your soon to be ex-spouse. It can also become necessary because you may be required as part of your divorce agreement to structure your will in a certain way. If you wish to speak to group’s trust and estates attorney, please do not hesitate to contact Elizabeth C. Ketterson, Esq. at The Pollock Firm LLC.
There is often a need for two different types of accountants in conjunction with a divorce. If there is a business at issue, then you may need a forensic accountant to assist in valuing the business for purposes of equitably distributing the business between you and your former spouse. A forensic accountant can also prepare a marital lifestyle analysis for you, so that you can determine what your budget was during the marriage. If you need more information about forensic accounting services, please reach out to Judy Doyle, CPA at WithumSmith+Brown, P.C.
Given the major changes to the tax law in recent years, especially the new provision that changes the tax treatment of alimony payments, it is usually a good idea to consult with a tax accountant when going through the divorce process. A tax accountant can run projections of your tax obligations if you are paying or receiving spousal support or can assist you in filing your taxes for the first time as a single or head of household filer. Our group’s tax accountant, Mary Ellen Meara, CPA, at WithumSmith+Brown, P.C. can assist you in determining the tax implications of your contemplated divorce settlement.
A divorce is a major financial event. You can surely benefit from speaking with someone that is specially certified in the context of divorce financial planning, so that you know you are making the best financial decisions for you and your family. A financial planner can help you fix a budget based on your post-divorce cash flow. A financial planner can assist you in better planning for your children’s college educations or your retirement. Beth Zucker, MBA, CFP®, CDFA, of Invictus Wealth Management is our group’s certified financial planner and certified divorce financial analyst and she can assist you in bringing order back to your financial life.
Insurance Agent/Risk Advisor
Although the status quo for insurance coverage is normally maintained while a divorce is pending, there often comes a point when the parties need to obtain separate insurance. Whether there is a new home that needs to be insured or a policy needs to be reissued in a different spouse’s name, this is a good time to reevaluate your current levels of insurance coverage and assess your insurance risks. There are also often requirements in divorce judgments and settlement agreements to maintain a certain level of life insurance. Please contact our member Leslie Duffy of Borden Perlman to discuss your options for personal insurance and Beth Zucker of Invictus Wealth Management to discuss your options for life insurance.
Real Estate Agent, Mortgage Loan Officer, and Real Estate Appraiser
One of the biggest assets that most parties own is their home. While there are occasionally some creative ways that the parties handle the distribution of their home, in most cases, there are two options. The home is placed on the market to be sold or one of the spouses retains the home and buys the other spouse’s interest in the home. If the parties cannot afford to separate until they sell the house, having a knowledgeable, experienced real estate agent, who can get the home sold quickly and fairly, is invaluable. Our member Christine Mariano of Weidel Real Estate can help you sell the marital residence, so that both you and your former spouse can move on to the next chapter in your lives.
If the marital home is being retained by one of the parties, then a value must be determined for the home so that the other party’s interest in the home can be calculated. When fixing the value of the marital home, both parties want the appraisal to be fair and reasonable, which is why having an appraiser with integrity and familiarity with the area is so important. Please contact our member Beth Ogilvie of Ogilvie Appraisals LLC if you are in need of a reasonable and reliable appraisal.
Whether you are selling the marital residence, or one party is retaining it, a mortgage loan officer is an important part of either process. When selling your current home and purchasing a new one, you will likely need a mortgage for the new home. When you are the spouse retaining the marital home, often you will need to obtain a new mortgage in your name to finalize the transfer. Thus, a diligent, responsive mortgage loan officer can make all the difference in making this process go smoothly. Our member Erin Cook of Movement Mortgage is here to help with any of your mortgage loan needs and has particular experience in assisting parties whose income is partially derived from spousal support.
Mental Health Professional/Divorce Coach
Getting one’s financial house in order is just one part of the divorce equation. Another important part is maintaining and supporting your mental and emotional health during this difficult and stressful time of transition. A mental health professional can help you and your children cope with and develop the tools needed to successfully navigate the many changes that accompany separation and divorce. Our psychologist, Erin von Zuben, Ph.D., has her own private practice through which she provides support to families in transition, including individual therapy, parenting coordination services, life/career planning, and guidance on how to effectively co-parent post-divorce. Erin also serves as a divorce coach and child specialist for collaborative law cases, and is a member of the Mid-Jersey Collaborative Law Alliance.