Once upon a time, it seemed the only person you needed to help you through a divorce was a great divorce attorney. And lawyers can still be essential, especially through a contested divorce. But divorce lawyers are far from the only person who can help you successfully navigate the divorce product. In fact, it’s often best to assemble a professional divorce team.
In this episode of the Divorce & Other Things You Can Handlepodcast, I am delighted to be joined by Erin Levine. Erin is not only a divorce lawyer but also the founder of Hello Divorce, a venture capital backed, tech-enabled platform, that combines self service online tools with integrated expert advice so that everyone can sort out their lives and finances with less stress and mess. In Episode 8 of the podcast, I chat with Erin about assembling your best professional team to guide you through the divorce landscape.
Show Notes for Season 4 Episode 8
Do You Need to Assemble a Professional Divorce Team?
The problem with only using a divorce lawyer is that they are quite expensive. They are also not always the best equipped people handle divorce issues outside of the legal and procedural questions.
While you certainly want a divorce lawyer in a contested divorce, they are not the best suited to help you with things like conflict resolution, your finances, or your emotional health.
Divorce is now like a home remodeling project where you are the general contractor hiring your support team. And unless there is an emergency situation, divorce is a marathon not a spring – you have time to sort out who you need on your team and fit the pieces together.
Examine your options, read through everyone’s paperwork and figure out who the right people are for your team. You have time to be thoughtful about who to bring into help you through the divorce process and when.
Where To Start with Assembling Your Divorce Team – A Divorce Coach
Initiating the divorce – When you make the decision not to stay married, do you feel ready to have the initial conversation about getting a divorce with your spouse? Or will you be able to get to this stage on your own?
If not, the first place you may want to start is with a divorce coach. They can help you formulate a plan as to how and when to tell your spouse and what you will do next. You don’t need months of coaching sessions for this – one or a few will likely do. Interview potential coaches and find out what they will charge.
Eliminating duplication of effort – How can you make sure you aren’t paying for overlapping services from members of your divorce team?
Ask the potential members of your team if they are comfortable working collaboratively on your divorce. Also, find out their strategy – are they looking to help you achieve a win-win scenario for you and your ex, or are they looking to fight for everything they can possibly get you?
The team approach will help you get through the divorce process with the least amount of financial and emotional effort, and help you rebound back to an empowering next chapter of your life.
Other Primary Divorce Team members
Understanding two main aspects of divorce: procedural and substantive. Procedural aspects are the forms that need to be filled out and filed, filing at the correct time, serving documents to your ex, and getting your final divorce document or decree. Substantive aspects include the actual working through of the divorce matters from financial to custodial, and more.
Many people like to meet with a lawyer at the beginning of the process. This way you can get some initial information and ascertain the best and worst case scenarios. This will help you in negotiating terms later.
This doesn’t necessarily mean retaining a lawyer nor does it mean you are lawyering up or ramping up hostilities. This is just to help you make informed decisions.
Divorce Financial Analyst
To understand your financial picture prior to making the divorce agreement, you can include a divorce financial analyst on your team.
You and your spouse can meet with a neutral analyst or get your own independently of your ex to help both you and your spouse understand what the financial landscape looks like for you.
A mediator can help you work through disagreements in the early process of your divorce and help you avoid going to court later.
Some people are intimidated by mediation because they think you need to be in a room with your ex or on the same Zoom call. But this isn’t true anymore. Lots of mediators essentially shuttle back and forth between spouses now to avoid discomfort, tension, or emotional triggers.
A Co-Parenting Counselor can help you and your spouse transition from parenting within a marriage to parenting outside of the marital structure.
Potential Secondary Divorce Team Members
Pivotal supporting players on your professional divorce team may include the following as suits your needs:
The point is to get away from solely focusing on a divorce lawyer to help you handle everything through the process
Members of your core divorce team can help you figure out which secondary team members you may need and when to include them in the process. You do not need to have everyone in place all at once.
Wrap Up: Assembling Your Divorce Team
Flat Rate Services – Some lawyers charge flat rates; this can apply to mediators, financial analysts and others as well). This can be a benefit to both the lawyer and the client. This way the client knows exactly what they will spend on a given task. But it can be very challenging when a divorce gets messy for a lawyer to charge this way.
The big unknown in any divorce will be your spouse’s reaction
Erin Levine and Hello Divorce
The mission of Hello Divorce is to help people get through the entire life transformation that is divorce as easily and affordably as possible. The core product of the company is “A Kinder Divorce”.
Hello Divorce combines software with integrated expert services to get you through the divorce process from start to finish.
It began as a passion project for Erin that became a full-fledged business. It currently offers online divorce filing services in five states and divorce coaching, mediation, and financial advising in all fifty states.
Erin Levine is not your typical divorce attorney. After over a decade litigating complex cases, she set out to revolutionize the broken divorce system by providing a kinder, easier and more affordable pathway out of marriage and into your next chapter. That led her to found Hello Divorce, a venture capital backed, tech-enabled platform, that combines self service online tools with integrated expert advice so that everyone can sort out their lives and finances with less stress and mess. Erin’s experience as a lawyer, mediator and private judge has led her to understand the roller coaster of emotions that come with a major life transition but she strongly believes that a breakup can always lead to a breakthrough and has helped thousands of people do just that.
Mandy Walker is a divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® based in Boulder, Colorado. She works with individuals and couples helping them to end their relationships with dignity and respect, creating an understanding of the process and their options so they can feel confident in the decisions they’re making.