Divorce is complex, both emotionally and logistically. Having a divorce professionals guide you through the process can make a world of difference.
Presumably, you’ve at least considered hiring a divorce lawyer. But that’s not the only type of professional that can make divorce easier. Working with the people below can give you confidence and knowledge — which may result in a less combative or more equitable divorce.
5 Divorce Professionals That Can Help You Through Your Divorce
1. Collaborative lawyer
Divorce lawyers have a reputation for being eager to fight. The concept of a collaborative lawyer turns that presumption on its head.
Collaborative lawyers are trained to work with the opposing side to reach mutually-beneficial solutions. They sign a contract pledging to settle your case out of court — and if the case does have to go to court, they cannot represent you. This takes away their ability to threaten litigation.
You may want to hire a collaborative lawyer if you’re committed to staying out of court but need substantial help reaching an agreement. Collaborative lawyers cost about as much per hour as a traditional divorce lawyer, but you’ll save money in the long run by avoiding a lengthy court battle.
2. Financial analyst
A divorce financial analyst looks at a couple’s assets — like real estate, retirement accounts, and life insurance — and comes up with options for dividing them fairly. They often work with your collaborative lawyer or your traditional divorce lawyer.
While your regular financial advisor may be able to provide some insight here, a certified divorce financial analyst(CDFA) has specialized experience and can work with you in depth. CDFAs are particularly useful in divorces that involve businesses, debts or particularly large incomes.
One of the things a financial analyst can do is help you make a monthly budget for life after divorce. They may work with one parent or with both.
3. Child specialist
Heated divorces that involve children often benefit from a child specialist.
This person meets with your child and with each parent before giving suggestions about post-divorce parenting arrangements. They are usually a psychologist or social worker with expertise in child development, and they most often get involved in collaborative divorces.
Child specialists are particularly useful when the child of divorcing parents has special needs or is too young to communicate. Their impartial knowledge base helps parents come to the resolution that is best for the child.
4. Parenting coordinator
Another professional that can help divorcing parents is a parenting coordinator< (PC). They help parents find common ground like a mediator does, but they have an ongoing relationship with the parents that may last years. This means parents can turn to their PC whenever disputes arise. It also gives the coordinator time to coach the parents on communication, child development, and more. A PC usually gets involved after a divorce has finalized but can also work with parents during the divorce process. In some states, parents can give a PC authority to make decisions for them when they reach an impasse.
5. Custody evaluator
When divorcing parents can’t agree on their child’s arrangements, they may need a custody evaluation. Your judge can require your case to have one or either parent can choose to hire an evaluator.
Either way, the result is a thorough report on your family’s situation from a neutral expert. The report serves as evidence, and both parents can question the evaluator about it in trial.
Evaluators can be psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, counselors, or therapists.
They’re not cheap — they usually charge several thousand dollars per evaluation, which parents usually split. But their investigation can turn the tide of negotiations or a trial. To save money, you can request a brief evaluation or an evaluation on one specific issue.