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The Role of the Financial Neutral

TASA ID: 11602

Going through a divorce requires more than navigating the legal procedures. When dividing property and assets, there are lasting financial impacts that each party must consider before making decisions. Often, each member of the couple has only their own best interest in mind, but they have a lot more flexibility in making decisions by working together in collaborative divorce.

Rather than being left in the dark about the economic implications of various settlement options, they go through alternative dispute resolution to reach a settlement. During this process, the couple works with a financial specialist, known as the “financial neutral,” who will address the financial situation that the family is facing. They’re equipped with the right economic background and training to handle the unique monetary challenges that arise in divorce and family law cases.

The financial neutral works to paint a picture for the divorcing couple and helps them reach a mutually agreeable settlement that works for the family.

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

The divorce process often conjures up images of fighting couples and cutthroat attorneys who are trying to win no matter the cost. But times have changed, and more marriage partners are opting to cooperate to achieve the best outcome for both parties.

This choice of collaboration and good faith is known as collaborative divorce. In this type of separation, the parties agree to settle disagreements by working together and avoiding litigation. A collaborative team is put together to assist with the process, and it usually includes mental health professionals to manage emotional roadblocks and a financial specialist to serve as the financial neutral.

It’s quite effective, and the American Bar Association reports 86% of collaborative cases reach agreement on every single issue. 

The Role of the Financial Neutral

Having significant training and experience dealing with the implications of financial and tax decisions made during a divorce, the financial neutral is an impartial voice. They don’t advocate for one party or the other; instead, they educate the collaborative team of attorneys, mental health professionals, and the couple about the economic impacts of the divorce. 

The financial neutral will focus on individual goals and help each party work through the process of setting up their finances for success. They’ll also identify shared economic interests that continue after the divorce, such as saving for a child’s education.

Recognizing that financial topics are highly emotional ones, the financial neutral will assist in the cooperative efforts of both parties to disclose all of the information thoroughly. By carefully weighing the advice from the collaborative team, the couple will better understand their situation. 

Some areas the financial neutral will help you consider include the following:

  • Supporting two separate households on an income that previously supported one;
  • Providing options for dividing property and belongings that are fair to both people;
  • Assigning a business and pension value;
  • Figuring out how much your real estate is worth; and
  • Planning for tax issues that might arise.

Benefits of Using a Financial Neutral

Using a financial neutral has significant advantages when partnered with the collaborative team as part of the divorce process.

  • Streamlines collection of documents and financial data
    The stereotypical divorce has each party working against the other, especially when dividing assets. Choosing a collaborative divorce and enlisting the help of a financial neutral will streamline the gathering and organizing of financial data. They’ll also point out missing documents and find potentially overlooked assets and liabilities.
  • Reduces costs
    Divorces are expensive. Relying on a financial neutral to collect the relevant data and supporting documentation will save time and avoid duplication of efforts, resulting in reduced costs. Plus, they act as an unbiased participant in the divorce proceedings, and the couple can share the expense.
  • Provides the benefit of financial insight and guidance
    Usually, one spouse handles all of the family’s finances, leaving the other spouse feeling overwhelmed by the lack of experience managing financial issues. The knowledgeable and impartial guidance provided by the financial neutral to educate and support both parties is a huge benefit.
  • Facilitates long-term financial decisions
    Instead of putting all of the focus on the immediate future, the financial neutral can also consider the long-term effects of the decisions that are being made. They’ll do financial modeling and projections so each party can see how their choices will impact them in the long-term. Seeing the big picture will ensure the couple is making informed decisions.
  • Leaves room for reasonable compromise
    With the emphasis on a mutually beneficial outcome, the financial neutral introduces the couple to areas with a potential for compromise. By working together and considering the individual goals and shared financial interests, the financial neutral helps the parties reach a reasonable settlement.

It’s important to note that the financial neutral doesn’t have the authority to make a final decision about the different options that come up in the collaborative process. Ultimately, the choice is left to the couple.

The financial decisions made during a divorce will significantly impact the future of both parties for the rest of their lives. Deciding to participate in a collaborative process and enlisting the help of a financial neutral will put the couple in the best possible position to rebuild their lives after divorce.

 

TASA Article Disclaimer

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA and the author (TASA Id#:11602). Contact marketing@tasanet.com for any questions.


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