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Three Ways the Right Divorce Attorney Can Help You Navigate Your Future

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

If you learned how to drive before the era of smartphones and GPS, you probably remember the stress of trying to get somewhere you’d never been. Maybe you wrote down directions someone gave you. Maybe you printed them off of MapQuest. Or maybe you just crossed your fingers and hoped for the best.

However you went about getting to your destination, it felt like your head was always on a swivel, not sure of where the correct turn was—that is, unless you had a trusted navigator. 

That trusted navigator was essential for spotting your exit sign in time, following key parts of the directions, and even remembering to stop and fuel up for the road. They helped you get where you needed to go—and they made it less stressful. 

So it can also go with divorce

The right divorce attorney does more than just file documents and prepare arguments. They serve as a navigator as you move through the landscape of legal planning, strategy, negotiations, and post-divorce life. While there are many ways they can do this, there are three that are especially important as you look ahead. 

1. Your divorce attorney can help you identify and set goals

It’s hard to make intentional, future-focused decisions when you’re stressed and uncertain. During this time, your attorney can help you focus on what’s truly important so you can be proactive, not reactive. 

As your divorce attorney digs into your case, they’ll work with you to identify and set realistic goals in areas including:

The right divorce attorney won’t insist on a particular route or promise that a specific outcome is realistic. Instead, they’ll help you set goals based on your particular circumstances and the facts of the case, and then come up with a concrete plan to achieve them. 

Let’s say you’ve been out of the workforce while raising your family, but your plan has always been to reenter once your children are in school. Your divorce might not have to throw a wrench in that long-term plan; your attorney can help you determine if based on your assets, alimony options, and long-term budget can help make the plan viable, as well as connect you with a career counselor or coach. 

How does your divorce attorney help you figure out your goals?

Your divorce attorney doesn’t need to be a mind reader, but they do need to be a good listener. 

The right divorce attorney takes the time to listen to you and understand your needs and concerns. Communication is key between a divorce attorney and their client, and when done well, this communication informs the strategy for your case moving forward. 

As you plan for your case, an experienced lawyer will ask plenty of questions—and answer your questions as well. They might ask about: 

  • Your current living arrangements
  • Your goals for custody and parenting time
  • How you envision child support arrangements
  • Your current employment situation 
  • Priorities for how assets are divided

Instead of just assuming what you should want from your divorce, they will listen carefully and lay out what they see as the best options for you. Let’s say you and your spouse ran a business together, and you’re concerned about ensuring your investment is reflected in the divorce settlement. Your divorce attorney might ask you questions like: 

  • What is the business’ origins? 
  • Is there a prenuptial agreement in place? 
  • What is the business’ valuation? 
  • How have you and your soon-to-be ex contributed to the business? 
  • How will you each be involved in the business post-divorce? 

They’ll apply this information to the fuller context of your division of assets and help you understand what possible paths you might take (including backup plans—more on that below!). 

2. Your divorce attorney can help you prepare for your financial future

Your financial future isn’t just your bank statement. It includes myriad factors, both big and small, and your divorce attorney should be prepared to help you navigate all of them. 

They can help you negotiate issues like the distribution of assets and alimony, but they’ll also help you get a handle on the wide-ranging impacts of your settlement.

For example, if your goal is to stay in the family home, this course of action could end up saddling you with additional financial obligations. It could affect your debts, especially if the house has a mortgage that will need to be refinanced. You may also have to buy your ex out to keep the house, which could be a significant decision. 

Your attorney can help you assess whether these are realistic undertakings for you. If they are, how can you create a sustainable long-term plan to manage them? If not, what are feasible alternatives? 

Divorce, taxes, and your attorney

Your divorce attorney is there to navigate you figure out sticky, tricky topics—and one of them is taxes. 

How do taxes play into divorce? A lot of different ways!

One major tax-related conversation between you and your attorney should be how dividing your assets might impact your tax obligation. For example, if you and your soon-to-be have discussed dividing your retirement account, but the process for these accounts might require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This could potentially lead to taxable income if not handled correctly. 

In addition, your divorce attorney can work with you to review your assets with regard to:

  • How your tax bracket may change
  • Marital versus pre-marital asset division
  • Business ownership division
  • Real estate and other asset division
  • Debt division

If you share a child with your former partner, there may be tax considerations, too. Your attorney can help you figure out how your divorce will affect issues like: 

  • Filing status 
  • Child tax credit (CTC) 
  • Child and dependent care credit 
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) 
  • Dependency exemption 
  • Medical expenses 
  • Education credits  

An experienced divorce attorney will sometimes partner with financial professionals to review your case. This helps save time and set realistic expectations. A financial expert, such as a forensic accountant, may also weigh in if there are concerns about tracing assets, establishing income, discrepancies in documentation, or if high-value assets are in question. 

When it comes to your finances, it’s not just about performing a triage for what is needed at the moment. It’s also about creating as comprehensive a strategy as possible. 

3. Your divorce attorney can help you figure out alternate routes to a resolution

While divorce attorneys work with their clients to achieve their goals, sometimes, things don’t proceed as planned. A significant part of destressing the divorce process is always having an alternate route in mind. That way, no matter what you might run into along the way, you can keep making progress towards your future. 

However, it’s important that alternate routes are planned with your specific goals in mind. Let’s say you and your former partner are in the midst of a gray divorce. While your own financial security isn’t on your mind, you are concerned that your division of assets might impact the legacy you want to leave behind for your grandchildren. Your divorce attorney can work with you to explore options for options like structured settlements for retirement accounts, to deploy specialized trusts for asset protection, and carefully plan for tax considerations. 

Note that your divorce attorney can—and should—also bring in other professionals to ensure your future needs are thoroughly addressed, such as estate planning attorneys, financial advisors, or forensic accountants. By creating a holistic picture of your post-divorce future, you make the most informed decisions possible while staying focused on your ultimate goal(s). 

Jacobs Berger is here to help you destress the divorce process

During the divorce process, the right divorce attorney provides you with options and support so you can be empowered to make informed decisions, no matter what curveballs are thrown your way. 

Here at Jacobs Berger, our New Jersey divorce attorneys use our unique “de-stress doctrine” to help guide you through the divorce process and minimize your stress at each step along the way. Our experienced legal team provides a combination of practical guidance and realistic legal support to minimize the challenges during this time.

Make an appointment to coordinate your strategy session with our team.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.