“We have a lot of assets to divide. Is Collaborative Divorce appropriate – or even wise?”
Collaborative Divorce is perfectly appropriate for any size of marital estate. It may be even more appropriate for one in which there are numerous assets.
In Collaborative Divorce, there is a neutral financial professional whose job is to take an inventory of all the assets and make sure the parties understand the value of them. The financial professional is usually a Certified Financial Planner or a forensic accountant.
The difference in Collaborative Divorce, as opposed to in court, is that the parties have much more latitude to decide how they want to divide the assets, based on their needs and values. They can be far more creative (and potentially far more satisfied) if they have a voice in what is important to them. One party may want to keep the family residence, while the other may want the retirement benefits. In Collaborative Divorce, they could trade them, even if the value were not exactly equal. Of course, they could do the same in a settlement in a litigated case, but in Collaborative Divorce, the entire process is devoted to settlement and to providing the tools necessary for the parties to work together to achieve a settlement.
Also, there is nothing done in a litigated case with respect to assets that cannot be done in a Collaborative Divorce. A forensic accountant can value a business, an actuary can value a retirement plan, and a certified appraiser can appraise real property. The difference is that in Collaborative Divorce, the parties will drive the process and decide which of these valuations makes sense for them.
Thus, Collaborative Divorce is a very effective process to divide assets, no matter how many.
About the author of this California Divorce FAQ:
John R. Denny is a family law attorney who practices Collaborative Divorce with Minyard Morris in Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at (949) 724-1111 or (866) 573-9679. View his Divorce Magazine profile.