Financial Advisor for Divorce

Parent Q&A

Financial advice going into a divorce Apr 4, 2018 (12 responses below)
  • Financial advice going into a divorce

    (12 replies)

    I'm seeking help on how to get financial advice as I go into a divorce. My husband and I are separating, and will likely be getting divorced. (He's been having an affair for over a year.) We have two small kids, bought a home a year ago, and are paying a ton for childcare right now. We both work but he makes 3 times more than me. He says he wants me to stay in the house and he will support me and the kids so we can maintain our same life. He wants to try to do this amicably and wants to avoid the courts as much as possible. Of course, emotions aside, I want to protect myself and make sure I'm getting what I deserve. I know I should be getting my own lawyer, despite what he's saying, but I was also wondering if there's any way to get financial help from someone who's experienced with divorce without resorting to a lawyer (at this point). Any recommendations on what to do about the financial aspect of this? Thank you.

    I've used Camille King for just that sort of advice before. She specializes in collaborative divorce, and will meet with you for free initially to set if she's a good fit for you. She is a parent and gets what's coming up for you. She helped me figure out if I needed a prenup, and I learned so much in one hour!

    Amicable is better for everyone; it's also a lot cheaper for him.  So take advantage of his desire to avoid courts.  Legally he's obligated to support the kids in accordance with his salary, so that's not him being generous, that's the law. 

    You don't have to go to court to use a lawyer.  My advice:  Play nice, be agreeable.  He thinks you're a patsy, don't give him reason to think otherwise.  Work out as many points as you can between you, and write it up.  To the extent you're in agreement, you both win.

    Meanwhile get input from a family law and divorce lawyer on any points you haven't considered or liabilities (on your own, quietly).  Look for a divorce support group and ask them for legal and financial references.  Get a book from Nolo Press on divorce, but keep it somewhere he can't find it.  Yes, it's true some lawyers only want to create problems and rack up legal bills, but screen carefully.  You can also work with a mediator, but please get some advice just for you first so you don't agree to something you later regret. 

    Almost certainly he is getting legal and financial advice, no matter what he says, and he probably has a bank account you know nothing about.  Run a joint credit check, open your own separate account, keep a close watch on your joint statements, make copies of your joint tax filings, talk to his personnel department re benefits for you and the kids (like healthcare, life insurance, etc.).  If he wants to keep it amicable, he'll probably agree to the most obvious things, like health insurance for the kids. 

    The trap for you is that if you become Ms. Childcare and he decides to withdraw support, you won't have the funds to take him to court to make him pay.  Plus, if you drop out of the job market it's that much harder to get back in, so any changes in your ability to support yourself should be HIGHLY compensated.  Don't leave yourself too dependent on him.

    Whatever he offers you, GET IT IN A LEGAL AGREEMENT, IN WRITING, signed and dated.  Promises aren't worth the paper they're not written on.  Don't agree to anything where you are at the mercy of him changing his mind.  If he decides to renege, it'll be you and your kids dealing with the consequences.

    My 2 cents.  Good luck!

    You don't have to get a lawyer. Neither of you has to get a lawyer. Divorce lawyers make their money by winding you both up into a fury and billing you by the hour for ridiculous arguments. It sounds like you're both at peace with this choice and your husband wants to do right by you, so go to a mediator and continue to work things out amicably. There is not a ton of wiggle room in terms of what you can get out of him - and why would you want to bankrupt the father of your children? The divorce agreements are pretty much boilerplate -- again, divorce lawyers tell you different because they make lots and lots of money doing so, but the end result is much the same either way. Best of luck to you. 

  • I am at the end of my rope, but still have at least 2 years before I can afford to divorce. I need a couple’s therapist to help draw up a contract to equalize responsibilities around household duties, get stability in management of finances and get basic rules for child rearing or I will surely lose my mind. It is already affecting the kids. We get to ugly stalemates. If I get busy with work, instead of pitching in, he will take it as “cat’s away” and blow off what little he does do. I get home and kids are neglected/glued to screens, domestic work is undone, no one is fed . Leveraging of situations to express unhappiness indirectly is happening through kids who are acting out for many good reasons. It’s chaos and we havre to pull it together.

    I encourage my husband to have hobbies and leave me with kids. Everything goes much smoother when he is gone and not undermining basic routines. Problem is, we have to dig out of financial disaster #2 he created before we can separate. I have to work more, which means everything unravels and the kids are crazy, the house is exploded and husband resentful that I would leave him with the kids. Can’t afford to outsource anything and whatever extra I could use to move out and divorce are used to stabilize us financially. I know he will never change, hemce my desire to ultimately divorce when feasible. In the meantime, I would like for us to establish basic rules of engagement for the sake of the children, household and our sanity.

    I’m not ready to use the D-word out of the certainty he will destroy me financially and retaliate through the kids. But this crap has to change because it is totally toxic to us all. There are days I worry someone may call CPS when I am working due to naked unfed children on the street because the house is uninhabitable and my husband is locked up in his office glued to a computer screen, oblivious to anyone else but himself

    I would like for us to go to a behavioral, no nonsense couples therapist who can help draw up a contract that lays out clearly the responsibilities. I do not need or want to hash out underlying issues. We’ve been there, done that and husband sits there agreeably and  refuses to engage. Getting a plan with action steps takes out the finger pointing and wiggle room. 

    Thanks in advance for referrals in North Betkeley, Albany or El Cerrito. Thanks!

    So sorry to hear this.  It resonated with my life many years ago.  With the help of our couples therapist, we too drew up a plan, with a few very reachable goals.  But somehow, they were never important enough for my ex to work together to reach.  One of them was to have $3,000 in savings, but any time we had even $800 in savings, he would spend it.  I hope you can find the therapist who will help you with your plan.  But my guess is that he will not abide by the contract.  So I guess what I am saying is go ahead and start laying the groundwork for separation -- he may not be motivated to change.  

    And as far as getting out from under community debt, don't do anything crazy like I did, encouraged by ex, and dip into your retirement account.  You will never get it back during the financial valuation process, because it was co-mingled before you split.

    Once you find out all the details on the separation process, you can choose your financial separation date, which means that as of that date, all of the incurred debt belongs to BOTH of you, and any debt that each of you incur after that, belongs to each of you alone. 

    Sorry that I didn't answer your real question.  I just wish you the best of luck in a very difficult situation and at some point in your future, you will be so happy that you are no longer financially connected to him.

    I am so sorry for your situation. There are so many aspects of it that I can relate to...

    Try Alisa Genovese, she is in Kensington. Be VERY clear how many sessions you all have to work with and since your objective is clear she may be able to help.

    I have experienced many couples counselors in this geography taking care of the man in a heterosexual relationship - as if simply his effort were enough even when passive/aggressive, irresponsible or other bad behavior continue - rather than holding them accountable and treating them as fully capable adults who could benefit from growth - so were I you, I would just watch out for that.

    Best of luck to you!

    I feel for you. This is a horrible situation. Unfortunately it doesn't sound like you can count on him to take responsibility for much at all so I can't imagine why creating an "agreement" in a therapist's office would change anything. Those kinds of negotiations only work when both parties are looking for a solution. It sounds like it would just be a waste of time and money since he's not really looking to change anything.

    You might try talking to an attorney about a separation agreement that addresses financial issues. This is sometimes done when people aren't ready to talk divorce but want to protect themselves (from partner racking up debt, etc.) in the event they can't work things out.  Since it's a legal agreement it won't be so easy for your husband to just ignore as he would probably do with a therapist negotiation. 

    This won't help with the child-care problems of course but it might relieve your financial worries a little. 

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Questions

Financial planner for divorce?

Sept 2013

I'm trying to get organized around a likely divorce in my future - we have kids. We don't have significant assets (other than our house), but I'm thinking a talk with a financial planner would be helpful for me to understand how to plan for the short and longer term. I'm hoping we can go the mediation instead of legal battle route if I can talk my spouse into it, which might give more options to how we divide things, so it'd be nice to talk to someone familiar with both avenues. Ideally this person would be located in or near Berkeley and/or near Bart. Any suggestions most welcome! --Wanting to go into this with eyes open


I have a couple of folks to recommend for your process! My ex and I are divorcing (with kids) and trying to do it in a way that is fair and sane. It's still an unusual road, so there's less support for the collaborative model, but in the end our kids are happier and we can see that once we are through the process, we'll be friends again at some point.

The financial planner is Lisa Schneider and she specializes in finances around divorce. She has been present and lovely around crying fits/frustration, and she is very sharp as a financial advisor as a whole. She is in Walnut Creek/Lafayette, but it's worth the schlep.

If you find yourself looking for someone to act as a mediator and who knows the legalities of divorce, I would suggest Unmani Sarasvati. My ex and I have felt that she has created a good container for the process and handles all the push-back we can give. I don't agree with everything she comes up with and she handles that very gracefully, too. Av


Hello Eyes Open, sorry about your situation. I am an attorney and Berkeley and I know many wonderful financial planners, but for your specific need I recommend Jennifer Napper, a financial planner with MetLife. She supports many people post-divorce, so she's a good source for understanding the way from here to there. You can reach Jennifer at: jnapper [at] metlife.com, and read about her at www.jennifernapper.com. Good luck. Scott


Financial Planning for Divorce - I am a divorce mediator in Berkeley. I often send my clients to work with financial planners for the exact reasons you mentioned: to consider options and generate a plan. I can recommend Lisa Schneider, 415-287-7807, www.divorceplanningservices.com, Natalie Leininger, 510- 728-3578, www.llfinancial.com, or Susan Campbell, 415-439-8811, www.bvfinancialresources.com. The information you gather will help you be well prepared for the steps ahead of you to finalize your divorce. Best of luck! Camille


Financial planner specializing in divorce

March 2013

I am in the middle of a divorce. Well, hopefully soon at the end of all the hard stuff and close to signing a Marital Settlement Agreement. We have sold our house and once we finish up a few things, I will have my equity and will want to work with a financial planner to help me plan my future. I will be 57 years old in in a few months and have a freshman in high school. I want to be able to plan accordingly (I will be getting child/spousal support) to be able to survive on my own and eventually retire, God willing. Would really prefer someone in Contra Costa County, but I'm open to all recommendations. Thanks!


Russ Singer is a great financial planner in Walnut Creek. You can see his info here: http://www.russ- singer.com/ a dad in Berkeley


Marriage separation filing--referral for advisor

Aug 2010

My husband and I are filing for legal separation asap. We are in agreement for the separation and have 2 children. Logistically, we see eye to eye but need help with processing mostly financial issues. We need to pay our current bills, and forecast our individual budgets for the future. We are on the low income scale and fixed income, however, we own a home and have assets. We have reviewed the separation papers and can file them independently, however, it is our best interest to hire a paralegal, financial advisor and/or mediator to help us determine overall financial situation in a practical manner (debts, assets, future projection, budgeting and fair $ amount for child support.) All refs and/or practical advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks.


I highly recommend Thompson Advisory Services. My wife and I have been working on our finances with Mr. Thompson for roughly a year now and have found him to be extremely helpful. He has helped us evaluate our budget, investments, insurance policies, taxes, wills, and long-term financial goals. He is also an attourney so I suspect that he'll be doubly useful to you, given your circumstance. He is extremely knowledgeable and is able to explain things in layman's terms so that we understand the implications of our financial decisions. I encourage you to call Mr. Thompson (415-954-7186) and visit his web site ( http://www.thompson-advisory.com ) Bill