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.


Social Security and Your Ex

Personally, I find it hard to believe I’m merely a handful of years from being eligible for Social Security.  Maybe you feel the same way.

Did you know that if your marriage lasted at least ten years, you may be able to receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings?  And did you know that if your ex-spouse has died, you may be able to collect a survivor benefit?

Below the jump, I’ve excerpted a section from an investment email I receive.  It makes no sense to credit the firm that sent it to me, and since they don’t say who really wrote it, I can’t credit them.  But do take a look, as it’s important information that could make a difference for your financial future  And if you have questions, post in the Comments section and we’ll see if the community can respond…  

Seven Deadly Financial Sins of Divorce

Did you end up with the house in your divorce settlement?  Though it may not turn out as badly as it did for a very young Shelley Long and Tom Hanks (above), Investopedia suggests you think very hard about whether it makes financial sense to hold on to it.   This article may be of more value to someone in the process of divorcing, or who’s considering it, but it’s still worth a glance even if your divorce is long since settled.  Hit the READ MORE button to comment on the financial challenges you’ve faced, and successes you’ve achieved…