Yes, my client saved $17,000 because, for 45 minutes, I met with his spouse and then my client in the empty jury room less than an hour before they were scheduled to walk into the courtroom to ask a judge to decide the outcome of their divorce. I had an active hand in getting this couple to an out-of-court settlement. The stories of divorce cases settling at the last minute on the courthouse steps are common. Even so, I have to admit that it feels good to be so useful.
What did I do? I used everyday plain words to explain the financial situation to both spouses. I pointed out the financial impact of some of the unresolved property items. I demonstrated what the true division would be once those items were more accurately factored into the equation. I brought some reality into a situation that is steeped with emotions and pain.
But don’t the attorneys do that? Not as well as a CPA can do it. Attorneys are really good with the law. Family law attorneys know something about everything. But as a CPA and PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), I have honed my skills to explain complex financial concepts in plain words. I can do that faster, easier, clearer and cheaper than can attorneys.
Would collaborative law been a good choice for these people? I usually put in a pitch for collaborative law as the better alternative for divorces. But in this situation, I don’t think collaborative law would have been an option. These two people separated years ago and now live thousands of miles apart. Collaborative law works when the couple can meet face to face throughout the process. To learn about the benefits of collaborative law, read my bog entry of March 20, 2010.
Don’t I have to subtract my fee from that $17,000? No. I already did that math. He saved $17,000 after paying me.
By avoiding the trial, they both have more money in their wallets than if they had not come to this agreement in the empty jury room. They didn’t have to pay their attorneys for the trial. They didn’t have to pay me to testify. And they didn’t have to roll the dice and gamble on the outcome of the trial.