From start to finish there is no question that divorce is expensive. Sometimes it is a juggling act; do you spend the money for the expensive expert or do you agree on a shared one? Or do you skip an expert altogether (which can be dangerous)? The most commonly needed experts, outside of parenting matters, are residential real estate appraisers, business valuation experts, commercial real estate appraisers, defined benefit pension valuation experts, and forensic accountants.
If money is tight – and no matter how much you have, money is tight when you are in the process of divorcing – maybe you can share the costs of a joint expert. This is often a plausible idea for residential real estate because there is a common sense way to reality-check the results. Most folks have a reasonable idea of their residential real estate values, thanks to Zillow.com and your town assessor’s office.
It also makes economic sense to share the cost of the actuary doing the defined benefit pension valuation. There generally will be some form of information from the pension provider which also will provide a good reality check.
But, if it is at all possible, you should … Keep reading
As you know, if you read this blog, I had promised a set of posts on what constitutes good reasons to opt for the very expensive route of having your divorce resolved by a judge after a trial, rather than controlling the outcome by settlement. (I happen to be a control freak who loves trying cases so I have a slightly schizophrenic view of this.)
A lot of trials happen because of valuation issues. When one or the other of you has an ownership interest in a closely held company, a significant professional practice, or in major investment real estate, those items have to be valued before you and your soon to be ex can reach agreement on the division of assets, and sometimes before the support can be finally set. This is an expensive process to start, as valuation experts do not come cheap. The cost can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, particularly when the business is complex.
Generally speaking I do not often agree on utilizing a joint expert, I find that if one side disagrees after the joint expert has given her opinion of value, you have a guaranteed trial. If … Keep reading
Discovery is the point in the process where the attorneys, using various legal tools, are able to quantify just what is going on financially, as well as with other concerns, such as custody or parenting issues.
The first financial discovery tools are the Rule 410 production and the financial statement, both of which are described in a prior post. Once those have been exchanged, the attorneys usually move on to Requests for Production of Documents (RPD) which are expansions on the Rule 410 production. If yours is a case where there are business valuation issues or a need for a forensic accountant (more on those in later posts) then those experts will chime in here with a request for the documents they will need.
At the same time as the RPD is sent out, the attorneys often will exchange Interrogatories, which are a limited series of questions to be answered under oath. Generally the lawyers also ask what are called Expert Interrogatories, where we request information from the experts and their reports so that both sides know what all of the valuations are. These experts can range from real estate appraisers, business … Keep reading