Types of Divorce Professionals & How They Help

Like so many other things, divorce has gotten more complex overtime. Divorce has also evolved into a more integrated and holistic process, with the involvement of several professionals and experts being the “new normal” in many cases. In the past, these kinds of professionals were more commonly brought into a collaborative divorce, and it’s now clear that they can help significantly in most divorces.

With so many types of divorce professionals to help, whether or not to hire an attorney isn’t the only decision you have to make and an attorney may not be the best professional to contact first, depending on your needs. With types and methods of divorce expanding, so do your options when it comes to hiring divorce professionals. Here are eight types of divorce professionals and how they can help.

Attorney

An attorney is the most common divorce professional to employ. Family law and court procedures are complex and an attorney is trained and experienced in the ins and outs of family law. Make sure to interview a handful of attorneys and choose one with experience in your state as many laws do vary by state. You can work with an attorney in a variety of ways, including:

  • Limited scope or partial representation: An attorney will only deal with a few agreed upon issues or serve in a consultative fashion.
  • Full representation: An attorney will handle every part of your case.

Mediator

A mediator is an impartial and neutral person who assists parties who are negotiating their different perspectives about the divorce settlement. A mediator assists and guides the parties toward their own resolution. They facilitate a private process where, as a neutral third party, they discuss options with the parties to try to resolve any disputes about the pending divorce decree or parenting plan (if applicable). Some mediators will help explain the court process, paperwork and what must be filed when however they will not complete or submit anything to the court.

They can be appointed by the court or privately selected by agreement of both parties. Most courts will require you to try mediation before litigation. Mediation is a far less intimidating step than litigation proceedings and allows you to discuss your wants and desires in a more casual way before going before a judge. It’s safe and usually recommended to try mediation because neither party can bring up the details of mediation if your case does go to court.

Divorce Financial Professionals

There are a variety of divorce financial professionals you can work with based on your unique situation and goals. For example, A.M. Financial provides financial services to help you build a new financial picture. Having financial services and expertise available during the divorce process can dramatically decrease your stress, anxiety and uncertainty regarding your finances during this time. Not only do financial planners help you stay better informed on your situation, they can support the exploration of creative settlement options based on your short and long term goals. Specifically, a professional with the robust Certified Financial Planner™ designation who specializes in divorce can help you:

  • Identify cash flow problems 
  • Address and plan for future income tax concerns and changes
  • Understand the financial implications of keeping the marital home
  • Identify business expenses to be added back to income
  • Analyze and value retirement assets 
  • Understand the current marital value of a pension
  • Prepare future cash flow needs 
  • Explain and plan for distributions from retirement accounts
  • Establish and integrate a comprehensive, workable budget into the agreement that sets up both parties for success

If you are specifically concerned about achieving an equitable divorce settlement, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) uses their knowledge of tax law, asset distribution, and financial planning to help support the couple as a neutral party or on an individual basis as an advocate for one party. CDFAs help parties consider both the short and long-term financial impact of their divorce settlement arrangements so they can make the most informed decisions possible.

Divorce Coach

A divorce coach will help you with the transition into your new life after divorce. They will help you navigate your new circumstances by providing support and resources to help you with everything from your new solo parenting responsibilities to finding a new home or job. They may also help you work through the difficult emotions surrounding your divorce essentially trying to keep from emotionally ‘falling off the rails’ and provide resources to support your healing.

Realtor

In most divorces, property is a joint asset that needs to be split between parties. Typically the largest asset for divorcing couples is their home, and a realtor can help with the process of valuing and selling the home in the divorce process. Make sure to choose a realtor with expertise in selling property amidst a divorce and someone who will keep the best interest of both parties in mind (including selling price, timelines, negotiations, etc). A realtor can also tell you whether the market is good for parties to sell their home and find new, individual homes. A realtor who is trained in divorce has experience working like a mediator with a couple who may not always agree on items such as listing price, items to fix, etc. during the selling process.

Mortgage Lender

Mortgage Lenders can help partiers understand proposed property settlement agreements and the short and long-term impact of these settlements. Based on mortgage rates and lending dynamics and proposed settlement agreements, they can help parties understand:

  • Whether they should sell their home as part of their settlement
  • Whether one party should and can refinance the home on their own
  • What lending rates look like and how that will impact financing the current or new homes

If you have a complex property arrangement, there are even Certified Divorce Lending Professionals who bring the financial knowledge and expertise of Divorce and Family Law, IRS Tax Rules, and mortgage financing strategies into real estate and divorce situations. They can be hired as a neutral third party or by one individual to make recommendations and suggest scenarios when it comes to refinancing or selling property. It is essential to review your proposed settlement agreements with these proposals before officially signing any agreements.

Parental Responsibility Evaluator or Child Family Investigator

Either party can request or the court can order a Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PFE) or a Child Family Investigator (CFI). 

A CFI, which is more common than a PRE, investigates family dynamics and makes recommendations in the best interest of the child around parenting time and decision-making. They will often use questionnaires, visits, interviews, reference checks, and other approaches. A CFI assessment typically takes about 60-90 days and results in a report that will detail recommendations to the judge or attorneys.  

A PRE is specifically a mental health professional who focuses on determining appropriate parenting time and decision-making. Sometimes there are specific circumstances or unique concerns that require a PRE such as substance abuse issues, mental health concerns, abuse, or sexual misconduct. A PRE helps determine things like parenting rights and schedules as well as the need for therapy for the family or individuals within the family. The evaluation by a PRE typically takes 90 days.

Divorce is becoming increasingly more complex, which often means you need a more robust team to ensure you get the outcomes you want. We are here to provide the support you need and join your team or divorce professionals. If the financial side of your divorce isn’t clear, or you want to model and discuss different ways to divide finances based on your goals, we can help. Schedule a consultation to learn more.