Tag: Divorce Lawyers

Divorce in Connecticut – Who’s on Your “Team?”

This Week’s Blog by Lauren M. Healy.

Divorce in Connecticut—Who’s on your “team?”

Whether you are just starting to consider divorce or you are in the midst of divorce proceedings, having a team of carefully selected professionals to support you can make a huge difference when navigating through divorce.

  1. Legal counsel

One of the most important decisions that you make in your divorce case is who to retain as your attorney. It almost goes without saying that you should consider the personality and experience of an attorney before deciding that he or she is “the one.” A good fit between attorney and client can make the entire process of divorce more tolerable.

Before you decide who will represent you, consider not just the individual attorney that you are hiring, but also the firm behind the attorney. For example, inquire about the size of the firm and whether other attorneys will be working on your case. The approachability and reliability of support staff is also an important consideration that is often overlooked.

  1. Emotional and mental health support

Friends and family are useful sounding boards. However, don’t be surprised if your attorney asks whether you have a therapist (psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker) in place. You may even be asked this as early as in the initial consultation. It is not meant to be invasive. Your attorney should know what type of support (other than legal support) you have as you engage in the divorce process. If you do not have a therapist, your attorney may be able to provide you with some recommendations. Experienced attorneys should have a network of therapists to consider in making a tailored recommendation for a client.

You may be concerned that there is a stigma attached to seeing a mental health provider before or during your divorce. While your attorney can best advise you about the pros and cons, experienced divorce attorneys have generally found that to be untrue. Therapists can be valuable team members during divorce.

  1. Financial experts and consultants

Depending on the issues in your case, you may need to obtain a financial expert or consultant to assist you in forensic accounting, valuing a business, financial planning, discovering assets, or even just to help with basic or complex tax issues. It is best to identify the need for experts early in your case, so they can be involved with discovery as needed. You may even develop a working relationship with the expert(s) during the divorce and continue to utilize his or her services (such as accounting or financial planning) after the divorce action.

At Broder & Orland LLC we are proud of our team approach to resolving divorce issues. We frequently staff cases with more than one attorney from our firm, in an effort to provide seamless litigation and/or settlement support to our clients. We are experienced in building support teams for our clients, which often include mental health providers and/or relevant experts and consultants.

Should a Financial Forensic Evaluator be Retained in My Divorce Case ?

This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland

Should a Financial Forensic Evaluator be Retained in My Divorce Case ?

What is a financial forensic evaluator?

A financial forensic evaluator is typically an individual with certain certifications and qualifications who is educated and trained to analyze financial information in your divorce case. This may include, for example, an analysis of income, or valuation of various assets such as privately held businesses, equity awards, private equity and hedge fund interests, and other alternative investments.

When should a financial forensic evaluator become involved in my divorce case?

Usually a financial forensic evaluator should be retained as soon as counsel recognizes that there may be valuation issues in your divorce case. The evaluator can assist in fashioning pertinent discovery requests and responses. Occasionally there are circumstances where one party will wait to see the other party’s analysis and valuation. A seasoned divorce attorney will be able to guide you through these strategic situations.

Can the parties hire one neutral financial forensic evaluator?

This is possible. In some divorce cases the party will agree on one neutral financial forensic evaluator and further agree to be bound by the conclusions of that expert. In other cases, parties may agree to start with a neutral but retain the right to hire his or her own evaluator, should he/she disagree with the neutral’s evaluation.

What types of documents will the financial forensic evaluator want?

In the case of an income analysis, the forensic financial evaluator may want to review tax returns, pay stubs, year-end pay statements, statements from credit card and bank/brokerage accounts, and employment contracts. With regard to business assets, the financial forensic evaluator will want to look at such items as Profit and Loss Statements, Balance Sheets, General Ledgers, Partnership Agreements, Operating Agreements, corporate/partnership tax returns, K-1s, and business accounts. In the case of alternative investments, it will be important to review documents such as Operating Agreements, investor correspondence and Private Placement Memoranda. And for equity awards such as stock options, RSUs, and Phantom Equity awards, items such as vesting schedules, agreements, and plan documents will require review.

Can I expect the financial forensic evaluator to prepare a report?

Whether a report is to be prepared is up to the party hiring the financial forensic evaluator. Again, experienced divorce counsel will be able to guide you on this aspect of litigation.

Will the financial forensic evaluator testify at my divorce trial?

Typically yes, unless there is an agreement that his or her valuation is stipulated to by the other party or the parties work out a compromise valuation. In order to testify as an expert, a party must formally disclose that expert in advance in accordance with Connecticut Practice Book Rules.

Can the financial forensic evaluator assist my divorce case in other ways?

Absolutely! And most commonly with discovery, depositions, analyzing the opposing party’s valuation, Proposed Orders for the Court, and trial preparation. Ideally he/she will assist in settlement negotiations and a resolution of your divorce case without the need for a trial.

At Broder & Orland LLC with offices in Westport and Greenwich, Connecticut we have extensive experience working with financial forensic evaluators in all facets of divorce litigation.

What Will My Divorce Cost?

This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland

  • The complexity of your case is a cost factor but the size of the marital estate may not be a major factor.
  • Cost may depend on opposing counsel.
  • Retainers and hourly rates aren’t always indicators of projected costs.
  • You can minimize the cost of your divorce case by being a cooperative participant.
  • Adopting realistic expectations will reduce costs in the long run.

What will my divorce cost? This is one of the most frequently asked questions of divorce lawyers at an initial consultation. Every client should make sure to have this discussion up front. But don’t be surprised if the answer is: “it depends,” because it does depend on many factors, some of which are outlined below.

The Complexity of Your Case

A common myth is that it is related to the wealth of the parties. This is not necessarily true. Some of our ultra-high income/high net-worth cases in Greenwich and Westport are the simplest ones. Conversely, some of the very moderate financial cases can be trickier, and thus more time consuming. Custody cases are by nature protracted and typically costly. But certain cases that at the outset appear to be custody cases, are really more about parenting time and access, and thus resolvable in a reasonable time frame.

Opposing Counsel

Experience, abilities and approaches vary widely amongst counsel in Fairfield County and beyond. We typically ask, “Who will be representing your spouse?” As experienced lawyers, that gives us great insight into how the case will be handled. Will opposing counsel be inclined to work cooperatively and collaboratively? Or will we experience scorched earth tactics? The answers to questions such as these provide a window for us as to the tenor of the case, and consequently, the cost.

Retainers and Hourly Rates

You will find these will vary from lawyer to lawyer and deciphering the projected cost of your case can sometimes be confusing. Divorce lawyers are free to set retainers as they see fit. But be careful. Don’t project costs on the retainer alone. Some divorce lawyers may quote low retainers but will be entitled to receive refresher retainers if your retainer funds run out. Other lawyers may have higher retainers and then will refund any portion not used. Virtually all divorce lawyers bill for their time as they go along. Hourly rates for divorce lawyers vary widely but again, the hourly rate doesn’t tell the whole story. A very experienced divorce lawyer may charge $750 per hour and a much less experienced may charge $500 per hour. At first blush, you may be inclined to think the lower rate is more cost effective. However, the very experienced lawyer may move through your case a lot quicker, requiring less preparation and research. It may be hard to do the analysis since most divorce litigants are new at this, but you should be able to get a better feel for it once you have your initial meeting with counsel. Also, you can hopefully rely on your referral source for further clarity.

Cooperation with Counsel

Most often there are opportunities to streamline costs by cooperating with your lawyer, especially with regard to discovery. This means taking the initiative on your own to assemble documents which we know you will be required to produce. Responding to your lawyer’s e-mails and calls in a prompt manner also saves time and money. Clearly developing an agenda prior to a call or meeting will result in greater efficiency.

Adopt Realistic Expectations for the Resolution of Your Case

So often, too much time is wasted on staking out unrealistic positions or posturing for a perceived tactical gain. Most divorces involve negotiations, so to some extent there will naturally be some back and forth, but it is critical to be strategic rather than adversarial. An experienced divorce lawyer can provide you with a context for settlement or a likely outcome after trial. You should rely on that advice and be amenable to working through your case in an efficient way to achieve the likely result. It can be a pyrrhic victory to achieve your best case scenario, only to pay more in fees than it cost to achieve that result.

Despite the cost-saving measures discussed above, there are certain aspects of divorce litigation that sometimes cannot be controlled and which will drive up costs. The court system itself is often riddled with delays and unexpected twists and turns, which are not the fault of your lawyer. At Broder & Orland LLC, we have vast experience in litigating and settling divorce cases and always strive to make our cases most cost-effective for our clients.