EP 160: How to Stay Involved in Your Divorce Process by Doing Your Homework

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In this episode, we will discuss your involvement in the divorce process. You can have any number of experts helping you – lawyers, accountants, certified divorce financial analysts, valuation experts, social security experts, and so on. However, at the end of the day, it is your life and your divorce, so it’s up to you to stay on top of this process. Here are some of the major areas for you to be working on:

  1. Complete your statement of net worth or financial affidavit.
  2. Make a budget.
  3. Document everything.
  4. Complete your interrogatories and depositions quickly and truthfully.
  5. If you are using experts, help provide context.
  6. Participate in your settlement negotiation.

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This is one of the first steps you will need to take in your divorce process. You will need to get your financial information together for your attorney and other experts. If you make a mistake on your financial affidavit, it’s your fault. Get help with this if you need it, because the court will use your financial affidavit to determine things like spousal support, child support, and the division of assets. You can find more resources for your financial affidavit in our store.

Make sure you put together a post-divorce budget. How much will you have to spend on housing when your divorce is over? What will your living expenses be? What will your car payment be? How much do you normally spend on groceries and eating out? What expenses do your kids have? Your life is going to change as a result of the divorce. You will probably have less income but more expenses after a divorce, so you need to plan for these things now. It will help you keep these things in mind during your settlement so you can negotiate for what you need.

In divorce, there will often be he-said-she-said disputes, but if you have documentation of what happened, you can submit that information to the court so there will be no question. The method of documentation will vary depending on what it is. For transactions, your bank record or credit card statement is good documentation. For property, you may want to take a picture. Document communication that you have with your spouse, especially if there’s anything negative, like a threatening text. Documentation will allow you to present your case in a much more compelling manner.

Often, you will have to complete interrogatories or give depositions during the divorce process. Just make sure you do so in a timely fashion. Even if your spouse is withholding information or lying, it doesn’t mean you should. Take the high ground and provide truthful, complete information. You don’t want it to look like you’re hiding things or being intentionally misleading.

Experts will need context to be able to help you. For example, if you go to a forensic accountant and ask them to search for assets, that isn’t very helpful. If you can provide more context, like a business that you own that had some suspicious transactions, tell them. Give them information to work with so they are better able to help you.

Clarify your priorities with your attorney. Make sure you are fighting for what you want, and that you aren’t losing out on the things you need. Clarifying your priorities will also help you avoid spending a lot of money on legal fees on things that aren’t important. It’s up to you to make your wishes known and be involved in all parts of the divorce process.

The more involved you are in the divorce process, the better. It will help reduce your legal fees and expert fees if you invest your own time. Eventually the divorce process will end, so you want to set yourself up to be in the best position possible.

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Thank you for listening!

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.