Your Divorce Attorney: What to Look For, How to Manage

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For many of us, our Divorce Over 50 is the first time we’ve ever had to deal with an attorney.  Yep, just one more thing about it that really sucks.

So at a terrible time in your life, with all sorts of stress and emotion and pressure, you have to navigate that new, confusing, scary, and expensive world of Divorce lawyers.

How do you even go about trying to find an attorney? The first step is to ask for help. Have any of your friends, family, or co-workers gone through a Divorce? Would they recommend their attorney? Might they recommend the opposing attorney? You might also consider seeking referrals from other professionals you use, like your accountant or insurance agent. They’re often in networking groups with attorneys, and may have a sense of who you should at least interview.

Here’s an article from DivorceNet which addresses interviewing a Divorce lawyer. Asking these questions will  help you get a sense of the attorney’s qualifications, strategy, philosophy, and a projection of the costs you’ll face. In addition to using DivorceNet’s guide as a cheat-sheet for questioning potential attorneys, the site will also help you find qualified lawyers in your area (that’s not an endorsement, just provided informationally).

Then, once you’ve hired an attorney, it’s important to continue monitoring his or her performance to ensure it’s what you want. In this blog post, family law attorney Cheryl Stein says she’s often taken over cases for  clients who had come to distrust their previous lawyer. Many times, these clients felt their attorney was more interested in their relationship with the opposing counsel than with them.

Stein says clients need to insist on transparency with their attorney, meaning open, clear, and honest communications. Clients should be getting regular updates on the progress of their case, and be copied on all written communications.

Financial Planning For Divorced Over 50’s

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People going through a Divorce Over 50 have a wide variety of issues to deal with, but among the most important, and trickiest, is their finances. 

To get some help on that subject, I sat down with Steven Pompan, a Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley. Full disclosure, Steve’s a long-time friend, and handles my investments. He’s also been Divorced Over 50, and has made tremendous progress in finding his brighter future. Steve specializes in working with people in our demographic, and I’m confident you’ll find value in the interview that follows: 

Divorced Over 50: First off, your philosophy regarding relationships sounds very similar to what we say here at Divorced Over 50.

Steve Pompan: Yes. Ideally, everybody should have a happy marriage. We all went into our marriages thinking they would be successful. However, things happen in life and directions change. Everyone deserves happiness. The Divorced Over 50 (DO50) network for both personal and business has helped my progress in adjusting to a new life.

Don’t Let Divorce Ruin Your Finances

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Many visitors to Divorced Over 50 are either Di-Curious, or in the very early stages of their Divorce. If that’s you, it means that final decisions about post-Divorce finances have not been made, so there’s still time to get it right.

And this article from US News and World Report should help you do just that.

The piece offers ten ways you can prevent a Divorce from ruining your finances. Some are obvious, some you’ve likely heard before. But it’s worth taking a look and keeping the suggestions in mind.

The tips include:

  • Prepare for a new career ASAP. For a non-working spouse, as soon as you know Divorce is even a possibility, start planning to go back to work. Polish your skills and start networking immediately.
  • Don’t get emotional about your home or other items. Many people are emotionally attached to their home, but staying in it may cause significant financial hardship. And don’t spend more money fighting over sentimental items than they’re actually worth.
  • Hire your own team of professionals — get an attorney, accountant, or even financial planner who’s working just for you.
  • Don’t forget about insurance. When one spouse has a financial obligation to the other, that person has to have both life and disability insurance in case something goes wrong.

And if you want to dig deeper on the topic, here’s a piece from a Certified Financial Planner that’s also a good overview on the topic.

 

Going Back to Work After Divorce

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Lots of things change when you go through a Divorce.

In addition to ending your relationship with your spouse, you may also lose connections with friends. You may have to move into a new house or apartment. And for a significant number of people, it means going back to work.

Traditionally, it’s the formerly stay-at-home-mom who has to rejoin the working world, but it can certainly happen to men, as well.

And for Over 50’s who need to return to work after decades out of the job market, the process can be daunting.

Which Way to Go: Divorce or Legal Separation?

If your Divorce has already worked its way through the court system, this post won’t do you much good (though it will have info you can pass along to others, or keep in mind if your next marriage doesn’t work out, either…)

But if you’re Divorce-Curious, still living together though someone’s leaving soon, or in the initial stages of your split, you will be faced with an important decision: File for Divorce, or start with a legal separation? Different states have different laws, so your location may affect your choices. But if you have an option, there are a number of factors you may want to consider.

Navigating College Financial Aid When Divorced

Many Divorced Over 50 parents have kids of college age. Which means those parents are either spending a lot of money on their children’s tuition, or are about to.

Financial aid may be available, but getting it requires the daunting task of filling out a detailed application called the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). For divorced parents, it gets even more complicated.

The New York Times Agrees: More Older Couples are Divorcing

We all know the reality of Divorce Over 50, because we’ve lived it.

We know that you can reach a point in a long marriage where you say, “This is not the way I want to live.” Or you have to decide, “Do I really want thirty more years of this?” Or you muddled through while living parallel lives, but “when the money ran out [and you] had to face each other,” you chose to get out.

And now a lot of non-DO50’s are learning about it, too.  

Got (or Will Have) Grandchildren? Want to Help Secure Their Financial Future?

Don’t you just love being a grandparent?    

Is there anything more fun than spending time with the little one? Playing with them, reading to them, helping give them a bath, it doesn’t matter — whatever you do together, it’s just the best.   

And another great thing: at the first cry or dirty diaper, you get to hand them back to mom or dad. As the saying goes, “All of the joys, none of the responsibilities.”  

But there is one area where you probably would like to assume some responsibility:  

Making sure your grandchild has financial security.  

5 Retirement Assumptions That No Longer Apply

Back in “the good old days,” retirement happened at 65, the company gave you a gold watch and a lifetime pension, and you led a life of leisure as you ran out the clock in Florida or Palm Springs.  Today, most of the Over 50’s who stop working before 65 will do so involuntarily, many of those who have a choice will work past that age, and the notion of a guaranteed company pension is about as common as a pay telephone.  Making a bad situation worse, a whole host of other retirement assumptions are proving to no longer be valid. 

Beware of On-Line Dating Site Scams

It’s fairly well accepted that everyone fudges the truth a bit when it comes to on-line dating.  Maybe you use a profile picture taken last decade, list your body type as “athletic” when “a few extra pounds” is more accurate, or claim to love literature when the last thing you read was a cereal box. But there are a lot more serious lies being told on on-line dating sites, resulting in real damage.