Divorcing couple

Divorcing couple in the Bay Area

DIVORCE IS HARD –it’s hard when you both agree early on which divorce process is best for you; it’s harder when you can’t agree. It’s hard when you both live in the same area; and really hard when you are separated by distance; it’s hard when you are willing to sit in the same room together and discuss your property, debts, child support and spousal support; but it’s particularly hard if you are not comfortable being in the same room together or simply prefer not to be – as is sometimes the case.

So, what can you do if you and your soon-to-be-ex are separated by distance – perhaps in different parts of the Bay Area or even living in different states? Or if one or both of you is uncomfortable for whatever reason in face-to-face meetings?

One way to take the edge off a challenging divorce process is to video-conference with a financial mediator. The mediator will help you both  disclose, document, characterize as community or separate and divide your assets and debt, help you understand the financial impact of various child and/or spousal support decisions and help you each prepare a divorce financial plan that will project your expected income and expenses well into the future.

How would you go about doing this?

Usually the first step is to discuss your divorce process options with the mediator in a video-conference meeting to decide which divorce process will work best for the two of you. The mediator will invite each of you by email to join a Zoom video-conference from different locations. Click a link in the email and you would enter the video-conference room with the mediator – who would discuss the benefits and challenges of various divorce process options. If you agree on which way to go, the mediator will connect you with whatever resources you will need whether you choose to do-it-yourself, litigate, mediate or Collaborate.

If you choose divorce mediation, the financial mediator who is a CPA will email you a list of documents to compile, scan and upload to a secure portal in the cloud from which the mediator will download and review your documents and then input your information into sophisticated real-time, tax-effected divorce financial planning software. The financial mediator then tentatively characterizes your assets and debt as to community or separate, places initial values on your property and debt and then schedules usually three two-hour 3-way video-conference meetings with you and your spouse. The mediator will invite each of you by email to join each video-conference by clicking on the link in the email at the calendared date and time. In the video-conference meeting room, everyone will be able to see and hear each other and also view the financial mediator’s shared computer screen.

Over the three two-hour meetings, the financial mediator will facilitate a discussion of each separate property and debt in order and help you come to agreement as to what property your own and what debt you owe, whether each is community or separate, the value of each and how to divide. Here are some examples of the financial mediator’s shared computer screen on asset and debt division visible by you and your spouse:

Input Screen for Assets

Input Screen for Real Estate

Input Screen for Living Expenses

The mediator will also help you understand the financial impact of various child and/or spousal support decisions you might make and help you each prepare a personalized divorce financial plan – projecting your expected income and expenses well into the future. Here are some examples of the financial mediator’s shared computer screen on income and expenses and net worth over time that are visible by you and your spouse:

Division of Community Property

Budget Report

Budget Report – Net After Expenses and Taxes

Projected Net Income After Expenses and Taxes

Projected Net Worth

Sometimes it will take less than three video-conferences for you and your spouse to come to agreement depending on your level of conflict, your desire to come to agreement, whether you have minor children as well as the financial complexity of your community and separate property.  Sometimes it will take more than three meetings. Regardless, if you and your soon-to-be-ex are separated by distance or if one of you is uncomfortable being in the face-to-face meetings, divorce financial mediation using video-conferencing can help you to move forward respectfully, transparently and privately in a more convenient manner.

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