Topic Title: Financial Fluency for Family Lawyers: Retirement Projections, Tax Planning and More
Date: Thursday, October 3, 2024
Time:
11:30 AM Attendees login
11:40 AM Welcome and introductions
11:45 AM Presentation begins
1:00 PM Presentation end
Location: Zoom.
Link will be provided in the confirmation email once you  are registered.
Description:  By popular demand, this is a repeat of the presentation first offered on June 6.
This fast-moving session will help you gain insights into the current market landscape, including election year influences, and provide strategies for handling market volatility. We’ll explore behavioral finance and its impact on decision-making during divorce. Elevate your comprehension of long-term retirement projections, including social security and considerations for longevity. And we’ll cover top hits on maximizing assets through effective tax planning.
Speakers:
Amy J. Wolff, CFP®, CDFA®
Chad Olson, CFP®, CDFA®
AJW Financial | www.ajwfinancial.com
CE Credits: 1.25 CLE credits PENDING
Cost:
CLI Members: $25.00
Non CLI Members: $45.00
CLI Student & Emeritus members, and CLI Sponsors No charge

Who Should Attend: CLI Members, Family Law Professionals
Educational Level: Overview
Training Committee Chairs:
Louise Livesay-Al | louise@livesaylawoffice.com
Rebecca Randen | rebecca@randenlaw.com
For questions on registration contact: 
Sandy Beeson: cli@collaborativlaw.org

Emily and Daniel were in love. Their love story had once been the envy of the neighborhood—a whirlwind romance that blossomed into a marriage filled with laughter, shared dreams, and whispered secrets. But as the years went by, cracks appeared in their fairy tale. After years of therapy, divorce was agreed upon as the next step.

At a local coffee shop, Emily consulted with Susan, an attorney who specialized in collaborative divorce, a path less traveled but one that promised healing rather than heartache.

“Emily,” Susan began, “I know this is tough. But have you considered a collaborative divorce?”

Emily sipped her latte, her eyes tracing the steam rising from the cup. “What’s that?”

Susan leaned in, her voice soft. “It’s a different approach. Instead of battling it out in court, we assemble a team—a dream team, if you will.”

Emily raised an eyebrow. “A dream team?”

“Yes,” Susan said. “Picture this: You, Daniel, and your respective attorneys. But that’s not all. We also bring in a neutral facilitator—a wise soul who guides conversations and ensures emotions don’t derail the process. And a financial expert—they’re like wizards with spreadsheets, helping us untangle the financial knots.”

Emily’s curiosity piqued. “And what’s the goal?”

“To find common ground,” Susan replied. “We sit around a table, not a courtroom. We talk, we listen, and we create solutions together. No winners or losers—just a fair resolution.”

Meanwhile, across town, Daniel met with his attorney, Ethan, who had an established divorce litigation practice. The fluorescent lights buzzed overhead, casting shadows on the carpet.

“Daniel,” Ethan said, adjusting his tie, “we’re going to court. It’s the way things are done.  We serve her, file the papers and start the process of hearings.”

“But what about Emily?” Daniel asked. “We used to love each other. Can’t we find a better way?”

Ethan sighed. “This is how it works with divorce.  We’ll request documents, hold depositions as needed, and present evidence. It’s a battle my friend.”

Daniel remembered the nights he’d held Emily as she cried. He wanted closure, not combat. Maybe Susan’s dream team was worth exploring.

Back at the coffee shop, Susan continued her pitch. “Emily, collaborative divorce is cost-effective. No endless court appearances, no billable hours stacking up. Plus, it’s faster.”

“But what if Daniel refuses?” Emily asked.

Susan smiled. “We’ll encourage him. And if he agrees, we’ll craft a customized settlement—one that considers your needs and the kids’ well-being.”

Back in Ethan’s office, Ethan faced Daniel. “We’ll fight for your rights, Daniel.”

Daniel glanced at Ethan’s stern face. He thought of Emily, their shared memories, and the pain they both carried. Maybe there was another way.

Emily and Daniel stood at the crossroads, their hearts heavy with choices.

The Collaborative Path:

  • A team of allies.
  • Solutions born from dialogue.
  • Healing over hurting.

The Traditional Path:

  • Adversaries in court.
  • Evidence and arguments.
  • Winners and losers.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, Emily and Daniel made their decision. They chose the dream team—the path of collaboration. And in that choice, they found not just a divorce, but a chance to rewrite their story.

When life hands you a divorce, consider the roads less traveled. Sometimes, the dream team can turn heartbreak into hope.

Disclaimer: The characters and events in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons or situations is purely coincidental.

Note: This story is a creative representation of collaborative and traditional divorce. Seek legal advice from a professional attorney for personalized guidance.

This story was created in part with the use of artificial intelligence and in part by attorney Angela Heart.

Angela Heart | Attorney
Angela is a collaborative family law attorney at Heart Law, LLC. Her mission is to enable and empower divorcing couples to have a smooth transition that is family focused during a life changing event. To find more information about Heart Law go to 
www.heartlaw.net.

Heart Law, LLC
651-337-1333 | angela@heartlaw.net
www.heartlaw.net

 

 

Since its inception in Minnesota 30 years ago, the Collaborative Divorce process has helped families in all 50 states and more than 25 countries find a healthier way to end their marriage without going to court.   However, this respectful alternative to contested divorce has largely remained unavailable to families in greater Minnesota.  The recent advent of virtual practice and Zoom meetings has changed this landscape and opened up new possibilities for the statewide availability of Collaborative Divorce.

The Collaborative Divorce process was created in 1990.  Minnesota attorney Stu Webb, discouraged by the emotional and financial side effects of adversarial divorce, piloted a new approach in which attorneys would be involved for settlement purposes only.  Because Collaborative divorce attorneys were disqualified from going to court, these attorneys needed to become effective and creative negotiators and problem solvers.  The result was a process in which divorcing couples could design customized outcomes for their families and not go to court.

As the Collaborative Divorce concept grew throughout North America and the world, it evolved into a team process.  By using specially trained neutral experts in child development, family systems and divorce-related finance in addition to their Collaborative attorneys, clients are able to bring this added expertise to their parenting and financial resolutions, and likely reduce the financial cost of their divorce.  The process is tailored to the needs of the family using professionals based on the skills and expertise they need.

It has been an unfortunate reality for accessibility that specially trained Collaborative professionals are typically concentrated in metro areas, including in Minnesota.  But with the social distancing required by the pandemic, almost all divorce professionals are working with and representing clients online, typically through Zoom meetings.   This means that a couple’s distance from Collaboratively trained professionals is no longer an obstacle.  Individuals in greater Minnesota, can now have access to a full Collaborative team without leaving their homes.

To learn if a Collaborative Divorce is right for you and your family, please visit the website of the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota at www.collaborativelaw.org.  There you will find detailed information about the Collaborative process, as well as names and bios of Collaborative professionals who practice this family-friendly, problem-solving, and future-focused process.  Collaboratively trained professionals will be happy to offer you free informational meetings via teleconferencing to help you make the decision about whether this process, and a particular attorney or neutral professional, feels right for your needs.

Collaborative Practice Highlights:

  • The entire process is legally and ethically done outside of court
  • The result of the process is customized to the particular needs of a divorcing couple and/or family
  • Clients can build a team of Collaboratively trained attorneys, neutral financial experts, mediators and mental health professionals (coaches and child/family specialists) who focus on problem solving and dispute resolution
  • Collaborative professionals can offer specialized ala carte services in specific areas of particular need for clients, e.g., financial plans, parenting plans, conflict resolution, preparation and review of legal documents, and more.
  • Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota (CLI) website: collaborativelaw.org
  • Find a Professional: https://www.collaborativelaw.org/find-a-professional/
  • CLI Blog: collaborativedivorceoptions.com
  • CLI Mailing address: 4707 Highway 61 N, #217 | White Bear Lake, MN 55110

The Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota and the North Dakota Collaborative Law Group are nonprofit organizations focused on transforming the way families divorce by helping them create customized solutions and stay out of court. For more information or to find a Collaborative professional near you visit www.collaborativelaw.org (CLI) or www.nddivorce.com (NDCLG)

About the Author:
Shared by the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota
Public Education Committee

 

 

Frustrated with the world of politics today? Unless you are reading this from your hospital bed, having just awakened from a long coma, I am going to guess the answer is yes. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, it’s likely that you have about had it with all of the acrimony and with the arguments being made by “the other side”. Probably the one thing we can all agree on is that everyone on “the other side” is quite disagreeable, both in their opinions and their manner of expressing their views.

If you have bravely ventured out into the world of political discourse in an attempt to influence “the other side”, whether at a gathering of friends or family, or on some social media site, there is a pretty good chance you came away even more frustrated after the experience. Any naïve thoughts you may have had about the other person changing their mind likely hit a brick wall that, by the end of the exchange, had become, if anything, even stronger in its resistance. If “the other side” argued back at you there is a pretty good chance that your brick wall got fortified as well. You and “the other side” achieved the very opposite of what you both wanted to achieve, and you both were left in a state of frustration.

As a divorce lawyer, I am struck by how similar all of this is to how most couples behave when they are in conflict.  I am hoping there is something about watching these political arguments that may create a true learning opportunity for these couples.  The reality that I just described; the dynamic that most arguments lead to chaos, frustration, and a deepening of divisions is an important insight. And what better time to learn it than when you are going through a divorce.

Trust me, as someone who has “been through” numerous divorces, the maddening events that are playing out on the political stage, bear an amazing resemblance to conversations I have regularly observed in my office during the past three decades. Two people, seized with emotions, bent on getting another person to agree with them, stay awake at night thinking of great arguments to persuade their spouse that they are right, or worse, thinking of “good” attorneys who can do that for them.

If you are in the middle of it (either politics or divorce), you are likely so caught up in your frustration with “the other side” that you have little insight about what you are doing that is actually making your life worse. However, if you are able to stand back, if only for a moment, both with the political arena and arguments with divorcing couple, it is fairly easy to see that all we are doing is pouring gas on a raging fire.  Once you come to that realization, you may find yourself wondering what the alternative might be. Our inner voice immediately retorts that “we can’t just give in”, thinking, from the standpoint of our ego, that fight or flight are the only true options. Is there a third option?

There is. It has different names, but the most common phrase that negotiators use is “interest-based bargaining.” I will skip that jargon and simply call this alternative “dialogue” for the moment. Dialogue, in the sense I am using it, is one of those ideas that is simple but not easy. It starts with the idea of letting go of arguments and changing minds and focusing instead on seeking common ground or at least a basis for common understanding. What I have observed, at least with divorcing couples, is that if we can reframe the discussion away from “arguments to change minds” and on to dialogues aimed at achieving common understanding, it is possible to achieve common goals.  This type of dialogue is a central tenet of something called Collaborative Divorce.  To learn more about Collaborative Divorce, go to www.collaborativelaw.org.  In the meantime, watch what is happening on the political stage and see if there might be some valuable life lessons that will help us become a better nation, and better families.

About the Author
Ron Ousky, JD,
is a Collaborative Attorney and mediator who has dedicated his practice to making sure that families facing conflict understand their options.  He believes that families facing divorce are in a unique situation to make a better life for their families and he is dedicated to helping them find the resources to build a better future.  For more information about his practice go to www.ousky.com

About 3 and a-half years ago, a family in the Collaborative Divorce  process was working with the Neutral Child Specialist .   It was stated by my client that dad’s alcohol use was the primary basis for her seeking the divorce. She couldn’t take it anymore. She had been involved in Al-Anon and working on no longer being codependent and practicing stronger boundaries. Dad denied that he had any problems. Mom wanted their teenage daughter to have a relationship with her dad, but wanted it to be a healthy relationship that didn’t put her at risk. What came out in the work with the daughter was that she experienced her dad drinking and driving and she only wanted to spend time with dad when she felt safe. beer-can-79546During the process of creating the parenting plan, the Neutral Child Specialist arranged for a meeting the parents both agreed to attend in which it could be determined, and possibly ruled out, whether dad did have any problems with substance abuse. This happened because of how the team of lawyers and professionals worked together thinking about the greater good of the family system. But at the meeting dad wasn’t ready to hear it, and again said he had things under control. So, a parenting plan was created that gave daughter the opportunity to have time with her dad in smaller chunks of time, but have a mechanism in place to end the time if she ever felt at risk. Mom could also say no to time if she had a basis to say that dad was under the influence. They created details that both parents, and their child, felt comfortable with because they could focus on what was needed for the child to feel safe as well as the importance of the parent-child relationships. After the divorce, about a year later, I received a note from her client. She said that dad was finally pursuing treatment with the two professionals the Neutral Child Specialist had arranged the meeting with during the work on the parenting plan. She said that dad finally hit bottom and was ready to begin his recovery. When I look back on this case, I believe that a seed was planted and a relationship was started with people that dad could finally hold his hand out to for help when he was ready. And, because you can not force someone to make change before they are ready, a parenting plan was created that was responsive to the needs of the child. The dad was not dragged through the mud and vilified, and denied access to his child. Rather, a child responsive plan was put in place and now this family is on a better path. The mom said in a note to me, “I really appreciate the entire collaborative team. The support through this most difficult time was immeasurably helpful. I found [your] and the team’s understanding, when dealing with a substance abuse spouse, extremely insightful. [The Neutral Child Specialist] was direct, yet kind in dealing with both [dad] and myself. The entire team had our daughter’s interests at the forefront. [Dad’s] attorney also was helpful in this aspect, aware of the pitfalls in dealing with an alcoholic….thank you…in helping me through this, supporting my goals and providing a positive environment.”
In Part 1, vortex was defined as: 1) a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it towards its center; 2) a place or situation regarded as drawing into its center all that it surrounds, and hence, being inescapable or destructible.tropical-cyclone-catarina-1167137_1920 The second definition provides a visual for what many think a divorce “looks like.”  While the end of a marriage is emotionally tumultuous and devastating, the actual legal process of uncoupling does not have to be.  But, it is critical that you choose a process that promotes healing.  The Collaborative Process does just that. Collaboration is a holistic approach to divorce.  It can be utilized by couples who are ending either a marriage or significant relationship, or who have a child or children together.  Although some people question whether it is an appropriate process when domestic abuse or mental health/chemical dependency issues are present, many others think it can (and should) at least be attempted.  If you don’t want to be another “divorce horror story,” the Collaborative Process will likely be a great fit. Collaboration focuses on the future (i.e., the relationship of co-parenting in two homes) rather than the past (i.e. the vilification of one spouse); is a win-win for both partners (rather than a court-imposed win-lose); and emphasizes the well-being of the entire family.  You don’t air your dirty laundry in court, and you aren’t (literally) judged.  In fact, you never set foot in a courtroom.  The negotiation model is interest-based/win-win, rather than positional/win-lose.  You pay attorneys to help you solve problems, not argue and keep you stuck in the past.  Every family is unique, so every family deserves a unique solution.  And if you have young children, please keep in mind they need you present and available.  You can’t be present when you are fighting the other parent in court.  In Part 3, we will discuss the various professionals in the Collaborative Process and how their expertise can help you avoid the divortex.
Remember hearing that as a child?  I do.  I said it.  I believed it.  And then I didn’t.  Names DO hurt, even if they aren’t “really bad, mean names.”  They can burn a memory into your brain that can haunt you.  My son, who is six, is one of the younger children in his 1st grade class.  Next to his 2nd grade soccer buddies, he’s a bit vertically challenged, although he’s considered “average” in height.  Nonetheless, when he came home in tears the other day because an older child called him “shorty,” he undoubtedly felt the sting of name-calling.  Welcome to the real world, my sweet, darling son!  We have all experienced it, to some extent, and it stinks.watercolour-1766301_1920 Rather than utter that renowned phrase to my son, my collaboratively-trained lawyer brain went into “better-get-more-information” mode. The conversation went like this: Me:        How did that make you feel when he said that? Son:       Sad. Me:        Mmmmm….I can see that… Son:      And angry… Me:        Definitely!  (Pause).  So, what happened next? Son:       (without missing a beat) I grabbed the ball out of his hands, dribbled it down the court, and made a basket. Me:        (Stunned!)  Wow!  That is AMAZING!  (Beaming with pride…that’s my boy!) So, my son “shows up” this kid by making a basket, yet he was still upset (hours?) later and recalls the name-calling rather than his awesome basket?!  This certainly illustrates words have a HUGE impact on others, whether we realize it or not.  It doesn’t have to be name-calling, either.  It can be just the language we use and the way we say it.  The tone in our voice can turn an otherwise innocuous comment into a heated argument.  So…STOP.  Take a DEEP breath (and maybe throw a stick at some THING).  THINK before you speak, and CHOOSE your words carefully.  Then go shoot some hoops.
aA collaborative law colleague recently wrote a lovely piece in the Boston Globe describing his reasons for leaving his litigation practice behind and representing clients only in alternative dispute resolution processes. His article resonated greatly with me. I too left behind a litigation practice to enter the world of peacemaking. While not an easy choice at the time, I look back six years later and realize that these years have been the most fulfilling of my career.  I have not stepped foot in a courtroom in almost six years. I am thankful for many things in my current “out of court” career, but here are just a few:
  • I spend my days working with clients on resolutions that meet their big picture goals.
  • My conversations and negotiations are fruitful, honest and genuine.  The teams I work with and clients who choose me are seeking this type of interest-based negotiation without gamesmanship or posturing.
  • My colleagues are professionals with passion and dedication to help people through transitions in their marriage – many are my friends, including attorneys who are on the “other side” representing my client’s spouse.
  • I can be creative in tailoring outcomes to meet my clients goals.
  • We can tailor my work to each client and what they need and want out of the process.
  • I am a peacemaker who is at peace.
Peacemaking professionals provide the best experience for clients.  I share my own story as a practitioner in the hopes that potential clients will read this and get a sense of who I am.  Knowing that, clients too may choose a path of peacefulness.
flowerIn the early days of separation and divorce you may find the idea of growing from your divorce difficult to believe. You may be in a state of depression or denial wondering how your life will carry on, much less that you will grow from this life change. It may be difficult to find the silver lining, yet the simple truth is that you can (and will) grow from this. You may or may not have had much of a choice in whether or not you are getting a divorce, but you DO have a choice whether to grow up or grow down through this process. In a bad or difficult marriage it is easy to see how a person might grow from getting a divorce, but all divorces bring the opportunity for growth. Your divorce will likely change the way you view the world. Your life may be functioning completely different than before. Maybe you are having to look for a new career or add a part time job to make ends meet, or maybe you’ve been out of the workforce for years and your divorce is forcing you back in. Maybe you’ve had to move to an apartment or back in with your parents or a friend. Maybe your kids are at a new school as a result of your divorce. Maybe your entire social circle has now changed. It’s how you view these changes and react to your new normal, that promotes growth. Growth from your divorce can appear in a number of ways. Emotionally, spiritually, physically, etc. Even something as simple as learning a new skill that your spouse had always managed like trimming the shrubs, or online bill pay. Spiritually your faith might deepen or may struggle as you get through some trying times. Emotional growth may take a bit longer. There may be some dark and difficult days before you start to grow emotionally, but slowly it will happen. Your priorities will change and grow. If you have shared custody with your children you will likely start to value your time together all that much more. Some things that were priorities during your marriage may no longer hold a significance to you. Growth after divorce becomes a way to cope. Growth after divorce becomes a way to survive. Growth after divorce becomes empowerment. Growth after divorce becomes a new, better you.
question markWhen getting divorced, it is important to have a support network.  Having a sounding board and friends to talk through things with can help you evaluate options.  They can remind you that you are not alone.  Acquaintances who have gone through divorce themselves or who have certain expertise (like financial or real estate), may be able to help you with some of the decisions. Everyone needs someone to talk to. However, sometimes well-intentioned people can cause more harm during the divorce process than good.  Everyone seems to have a neighbor that somehow obtained a “better deal” than you did.  They either received more in settlement or support than you are considering or they paid less than you.  This “Greek Chorus” phenomenon can slow down progress and make a collaborative process more difficult than it needs to be. When reaching out to others for support during divorce, keep the following things in mind:
  • Remember that you live with your resolutions.  If something feels right to you, it might be best to not let your friends talk you out of it.
  • You can always ask your support network to just listen.
  • Figure out how you feel after talking through things with certain friends – if it doesn’t make you feel better or more positive about resolutions, they may not be the best support.
  • If you ask for advice, be very specific about what you are asking for and let your support know that you may not take their advice, you are just gathering information.
  • Be careful if you seek advice on one piece of the settlement without considering all elements.
  • You can always use your collaborative attorney as your sounding board instead of peers.   Your friends and family can support you in other ways.