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Experts to call on for planning a divorce

Surrounding oneself with supportive people is the secret to success in many areas of life. And it is no different with divorce.

In divorce, there are a variety of things that need to take place to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and with as little damage as possible. So who should you surround yourself with if you are getting ready to divorce?

First of all, a good family law attorney is critical. One divorce planning expert recommends interviewing at least three attorneys before selecting one.

Look for one who handles divorce cases at least 75 percent of the time. Lawyers who are Fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers are required to have a minimum of 75 percent specialization in matrimonial law, have been admitted to the Bar for a minimum of 10 years, pursue ongoing education, and comply with a number of other requirements.

It is okay to ask about each candidate's credentials, the types of cases they have handled, the outcomes of those cases, what they charge, whether they personally will handle all matters in the case, whether they typically represent the husband or wife, and whatever else you need to ask them to be comfortable retaining them as your attorney. It is very important to feel a personal connection to whichever attorney you choose.

Second, a good financial planner is important. The financial planner will work together with the divorce attorney to take care of financial matters beyond the attorney's competence. Your financial planner should have a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designation. Regular financial planners may not understand all the financial issues you will deal with in your divorce. The financial planner will also call on other experts as needed in each case, from forensic accountants and valuation experts to real estate appraisers.

Finally, divorce is difficult on an emotional level, and it is wise to have a good therapist or counselor to assist you in dealing with the emotional aspects of divorce.

Although one should not hesitate to call on the resources of one's family, friends, faith community, and other trusted individuals, it is important to secure a good team of experts to assist you in navigating your divorce.

Source: Forbes, "The Secret to Surviving Divorce with Your Finances Intact," Jeff Landers, 17 May 2011.

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