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Attorneys can still serve as advocates in collaborative divorces

Given the recent media attention regarding collaborative divorce, readers may have some questions about how this process differs from more traditional approaches. 

First and foremost, be assured that an attorney can still be present throughout any divorce negotiations. Although spouses may act cordial to each other, there may still be lapses in the financial information that each discloses to the other. Even if such omissions were unintentional, an attorney knows that certain property division items can be easy to overlook.

For example, retirement accounts and pensions associated with an individual’s employment may be items that the other spouse seldom checks. Although an individual may have plans to change the designated beneficiaries on those accounts, some of those accounts may nevertheless fall within the definition of joint property. If that’s the case, than those assets should be valued and included in the overall inventory of the marital estate. 

An attorney can also examine potential liabilities that might attach to a spouse, even after the divorce proceeding has concluded. For example, a spouse might be named as a joint holder on a credit card, even if he or she never uses that particular credit card. An attorney can remind individuals that the marital estate includes not only a share in the assets, but potentially joint liability for debts incurred during the marriage.

As these examples illustrate, the need for an attorney remains present even when couples would like to minimize court involvement and work out agreements themselves. An attorney that focuses on divorce can help individuals through these issues, formalizing them in agreements that a court can later approve.

Source: Huffington Post, “What Is Required to Make Collaborative Divorce Truly Collaborative?” June 3, 2014

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