Once you’ve had a consultation with a few lawyers or other family law professional, you need to choose who to hire. Here, you should either make a list of pros and cons or go by your gut feeling. Who made you feel secure? Who seemed like they’d have your back? Who listened? You don’t need to be friends with your attorney, but you do need to feel like they will respect you and your decisions. This person is going to learn about every aspect of your life, so it’s key that there is mutual trust.
Tips on Choosing Your Family Law Professional
Once you’ve hired an attorney, mediator, or arbitrator, you can look at the other professionals who might help in your divorce. Here is a list of some of the divorce professionals you might consider.
Divorce coaches are individuals trained to help you through the process of divorce. The CDC Certified Divorce Coach® accreditation is the gold standard and they are trained in communication, neuroscience, conflict management, emotional containment, dealing with attorneys, and divorce finance. They are a thinking partner, source of information, and cheerleader who can help you move out of the emotional spin of divorce and start to make good decisions.
If you want to mediate, you’ll need to hire a trained mediator (who may or may not be a lawyer.) In the beginning, the mediator will need to meet with both parties to make sure the divorce suits mediation. After that point, they work for both of you, which is why you also need your own lawyer in most cases.
Financial planners and Certified Financial Planners® help you with personal financial planning, which includes everything from budgeting to retirement planning.
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professionals are divorce finance experts and work with you in a fee-based advisory capacity. You can hire them to help you pull together your financial affidavit for a fee, and have them run scenarios with settlement options so you can understand your options. Many of them are also financial advisors who sell products like insurance or mutual funds, but they cannot sell you products while working in a CDFA® capacity. You can also find independent CDFA® practitioners.
If you suspect fraud, a forensic accountant can find hidden money by reconstructing income based on expenses and can follow the money’s trail.
A business valuator is trained to value private businesses and is essential if you are buying out, or are being bought out of, a family business or are receiving shares from a private company. A pension valuator is able to value company pensions accurately for dividing them in divorce.
Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker
A real estate agent with experience with divorce can help two disagreeing parties negotiate a sale.
Divorce often triggers an existing mortgage to be refinanced. A mortgage broker can advise you of rates as well as terms and conditions. Unless you are buying properties with cash, talk to a mortgage broker about mortgage availability and rates before you ink your deal.
If one party is buying the other out of the family home or vacation property, a real estate appraiser can determine the current market value. Hot tip: if you don’t like the value they assign, you can hire another one to provide a second opinion.
Mental Health Professional
Divorce often creates a need for a mental health professional for the divorcing parties and their children. Mental health professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and licensed social workers can all play a role.
It’s important to keep up your energy in divorce. Wellness professionals like personal trainers, nutritionists, and massage therapists can also be an essential part of your team.
The divorce professional community is quite tight-knit, and many are members of the same associations. Many hold the Certified Divorce Specialist® certification, indicating they have received specialty training in divorce. One family law professional can refer you to other professionals they trust. Don’t be too proud to ask for the proper help.