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How to Improve College Financial Aid Opportunities When Divorcing

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As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), I often work with couples to maximize their estate by minimizing the tax impact of their financial decisions. However, with rising higher education costs, the conversation around divorce and college financial aid has become more prevalent. More couples are focusing on maximizing their financial aid opportunities when making financial agreements during their divorce. How assets will be divided, spousal support and other financial decisions can all impact financial aid eligibility.

One of the best things about choosing to go through mediation or other alternatives to dispute resolution is maintaining the power throughout your divorce process. When I sit down with a couple, before we even begin to discuss money, I talk to them about what's most important to them - what they are hoping to achieve for themselves and for their family. Parents with high schoolers often express concerns about how they'll pay for college. So, what do you need...

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Dealing with Emotions in a Divorce

I am thrilled to welcome Rita Abdallah back as a guest blogger. She recently shared a blog post about emotions and feelings, the difference between the two, and how to cope with them. I thought it might be useful to consider for those of you who are currently going through a divorce. Dealing with emotions in a divorce can be overwhelming. These emotions and feelings can often cloud judgment making it difficult to make thoughtful, fact-based decisions.

After your read Rita's blog below, consider how your emotions and feelings could be impacting you. At the conclusion of her article, Rita offers some great tips on how to recognize when you are in an emotional or feeling state and how to overcome it.

What are emotions? What are feelings?

by Guest Blogger, Rita Abdallah, LISW-S, LCSW-C, ACSW

Despite the fact we experience a cocktail of emotions and feelings throughout every day, most of us struggle to explain what’s happening. Experts - neuroscientists and mental health...

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Considering an alimony buyout? Here's what you need to know.

Spousal support (also known as alimony) is a hot-button issue for many of my divorcing clients.  Let's face it. Nobody wants to write a check to their former spouse every month. If you are the recipient, do you want to have to rely on ongoing support from your former spouse? That's why some consider a lump sum spousal support buyout rather than receiving it on an ongoing basis.

What is an alimony buyout?

A spousal support buyout is when the payor pays the spousal support obligation in one lump sum rather than paying it out over a period of time. It can be done with a cash payment from one party to the other, or it could be done through the division of marital property. In other words, one party agrees to give up a portion of their share of the marital assets instead of paying spousal support.

Why might a buyout of alimony be right for you?

Clients consider a buyout of their alimony obligations for a variety of reasons. In my practice, it is most commonly used when there is...

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How to Help Your Children Cope with a Divorce

Last night I was at my mom's house with my three kids. We were all sitting around watching a movie after dinner and my ex and I were texting about the kids' schedule for Monday. I asked if he wanted to join us for the movie and to my surprise, he did. Three years ago when we were in the midst of our divorce, I never thought this would be possible in a million years. That said, I cannot begin to tell you how happy it made me that we could all share in this simple pleasure together as a family. For that reason, it is my pleasure to share this important post on how to help your children cope with divorce by guest blogger, Deborah Bankhead.

As hard as a divorce can be on the separating partners, it can be even harder on any children involved. As a parent, it’s up to you to soothe some of their turmoil.

Here are some tips to help you make the adjustment as easy as possible for everyone.

1. Let Them Keep Both Parents

You want your kids to feel as if they’re still part of one...

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Three Phases of Healing from Infidelity

by Guest Blogger, Joanna Hardis,  LISW (originally published on joannahardis.com)

Are you suffering from the pain of infidelity? Do you feel lost? Unanchored? Confused? Like you’re just not good enough? Well, you’re not alone. And there is hope.

Last month, I attended an all-day workshop with psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author Esther Perel, entitled “Healing from Infidelity.” Perel is recognized as one of today’s most insightful and original voices on modern relationships. She helms a therapy practice in New York City and serves as an organizational consultant for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Not only is her voice mesmerizing, but she’s also very witty, incredibly smart and generous with her knowledge.

When Perel asked how many of us in the audience had been touched by infidelity, hands shot up across the entire room. This closely mirrors my clinical experience working with men and women in all...

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Life Insurance and Divorce: Protecting Your Family’s Future

If you have found your way to my blog, I'm guessing your marriage did not go as planned. Let's face it, in life, there are a lot of things that don’t work out as planned. One of the most trying examples is when you plan to spend the rest of your life with someone, and subsequently, file for divorce. Divorce can take a significant financial and emotional toll on a couple, their children, and other family members. In the midst of immediate financial and legal concerns, couples also need to consider ways to help protect their individual financial futures and that of their children’s in the event of death. This brings me to our topic of life insurance and divorce. Life insurance may offer a solution.

How Life Insurance Protects Your Family

While I always bring up the topic of life insurance during the course of mediation, I find that few want to have an in-depth conversation on the topic. Let’s take a look at several different scenarios. After...

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Shared Parenting Plan Checklist

I often find myself sitting in mediation with couples who are looking for guidance when it comes to creating a parenting plan. The beauty of mediation is that you can create a parenting plan that is going to work best for your children and your family. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing. That said, there are certain elements that, from a practical standpoint, you may want to address. Here is a parenting plan checklist of items to consider.

Related post: What is Divorce Mediation?

What is a Shared Parenting Plan?

Before I get ahead of myself, what is a Shared Parenting Plan? It's a written document that details how you will co-parent. If you take the time to think through future parenting challenges that may arise, it can take a lot of stress out of co-parenting. It's like a guidebook that you created for yourselves. When we discuss your plans for shared parenting in mediation, you can determine how detailed to get. There is a Shared Parenting...

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Splitting Assets in Divorce: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

Worried about splitting assets in divorce? Worry over financial decisions is normal on an average day but when going through a divorce, it can be paralyzing. The fear around these issues is completely warranted. You only have one chance to get it right and your divorce could quite possibly be the largest financial transaction of your life - not to mention the fact that you are likely overwhelmed by emotions related to all the changes happening in your life.

One way to handle the financial fears is to take control over your situation. Did you know that you don't have to divide your assets 50-50 right down the middle when you get a divorce? In fact, you may not even want to! If it's not simply 50-50 then how do you split assets in a divorce?

Take control of how to divide assets in a divorce by avoiding litigation

One way to have greater control over how assets are divided in a divorce is to consider alternatives to the traditional litigation process. An important benefit of...

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Dividing Pensions in a Divorce: Shared vs. Separate Interest

Dividing pensions in a divorce can be confusing. For starters, some clients that I see are often confused (even after negotiating their divorce settlement) regarding what type of retirement account(s) that they have. In this blog, I am referring specifically to defined benefit plans. Defined benefit plans are retirement plans where the employee spouse has earned a monthly benefit, which will be paid out once s/he retires. In some divorce cases, the employee spouse and his/her former spouse agree to divide the future benefit via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

Unfortunately, most settlement agreements that I see where pensions were divided do not adequately address the options allowed by the defined benefit plan. To be clear, the options are not consistent across all plans. Thus, it does take some research to know what the options are before they can be considered. The easiest way to avoid some very common mistakes is to request a copy of the plan summary document and...

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Contemplating Divorce? 4 Ways a CDFA can Help Reduce Your Stress

Divorce is difficult and emotional. It’s not something that people decide on a whim. It’s important to do your research and explore all your options to create a secure financial future for yourself. Hiring a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) before you begin your divorce process is a smart choice as it can help ease some of your stress.

Here are 4 ways a CDFA can help:

Alleviate the fear of the unknown.

A CDFA can help alleviate the fear of the unknown. S/he will prepare a financial plan for you based on various scenarios, giving you a greater sense of confidence (or at least a reality check) when it comes to your financial future.   

Answer your financial questions (and fill in any missing financial education)

Let's face it. Many of us could use a little help when it comes to understanding our finances. We are usually somewhat aware of the day-to-day finances but what about the other components? Retirement accounts, stock-based compensation, home...

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