Beyond Lawyers: Other Professionals and Their Role in Divorce

Ashley E. Bloch, Esquire, Bloch & Whitehouse, P.A., 8120 Penn Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota  55431, (952) 224-9977, http://www.mndivorcefamilylaw.com.

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For individuals contemplating divorce in Minnesota, the choice of a divorce lawyer is an important one. One important factor in choosing a divorce attorney that many people don’t consider is the attorney’s ability to involve other skilled professionals in the case as needed.

In some regards, planning a divorce is like building a house. When building a house, there are many types of skills needed. A general contractor oversees the construction of a house, but a general contractor may not handle all aspects of the project and may call in skilled workers to do plumbing, electrical work, or masonry. Similarly, a skilled Minnesota divorce attorney knows when a client is best served by adding other professionals to the team. Like a good general contractor, a good divorce attorney closely manages the overall process and knows how to choose the most skilled professionals with whom to work. Some professionals who may become involved in a Minnesota divorce include the following:

Appraisers

The marital home is often the most significant asset divorcing couples have to divide. A professional appraisal may be the best way to arrive at an accurate valuation of the house. Such an appraisal typically costs no more than a few hundred dollars, but may yield a difference of thousands in the valuation of marital property. Other assets, such as family businesses and art collections, should be assessed by appraisers who work in those areas in order to avoid an unfair division of marital property.

Financial Analysts

Many people are unaware that there are professionals called certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs) who focus their practices on the needs of divorcing couples. A CDFA can help predict the long-term ramifications of a divorce settlement, including tax implications. CDFAs can also help reduce the financial apprehension that the divorce process causes, and help plan for a party’s financial security after divorce.

Mortgage Lenders

Even if a divorce judgment and decree specifies that one party will be responsible for the mortgage on the former marital home, the bank is not bound by that order or agreement in the event of a default. It may be necessary for one party to assume or refinance the mortgage and for the other party to be removed from the mortgage. Until this happens, both parties remain liable on the debt. A good mortgage broker can help with this process.

Actuaries

With the possible exception of the marital home, a pension plan is often the largest asset subject to division in a Minnesota divorce.  Sometime, parties simply agree to divide the pension equally.  Other times, it is necessary to ascertain the value of a pension.  Determining the future value of such plans can be an incredibly complex process, and it may be inefficient for a divorce attorney to devote his or her time to this effort. Actuaries are business professionals who analyze risk and the likelihood of future events. A skilled actuary can be very useful in determining the most advantageous way to divide a benefit such as a pension in a divorce. The cost of an actuary’s services are likely to be offset by the advantage of identifying the most favorable division of pension benefits.

Guardians ad Litem and Custody Evaluators

A divorce is a dispute between a husband and wife, but if there are children, they are surely affected by the process. In the stress and tension of a divorce, even the best parents may lose sight of the children’s wants and needs. The involvement of a Guardian ad Litem to address immediate needs, provides a voice for the children in the divorce and makes sure the parents and the court take their needs into account.  Arriving at longer term custody and parenting time solutions may require the participation of a custody evaluator.

Not all of these professionals are needed in every Minnesota divorce, and some divorces may not require the help of any non-legal professionals. A conscientious divorce attorney will identify for clients areas in which outside help  may be beneficial, especially when the outside professional offers a service the attorney does not, or can perform a service (such as the division of pension benefits) more efficiently and at a lower cost than the attorney could.

To learn more about professionals who may be helpful in a Minnesota divorce, we invite you to contact Bloch and Whitehouse, P.a. at (952)224-9977 to schedule a free initial consultation. We look forward to working with you.

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