Like you, I have a specialized practice. You’re an attorney who chose to specialize in family law. I’m a CPA (and a Certified Financial Planner™ professional) who chose to specialize in helping women (and the attorneys who serve them) with the financial side of divorce.
A specialized practice means focus. If you take a jack-of-all-trades approach to law, you’re going to spread yourself thin. Same for me.
I’m not sure why you chose the career path you took, but I can tell you mine.
I feel for women who are going through divorce. And I’ll be even more specific. I feel for the women who are the “out-spouse,” financially. The women who, often, had been relying on the same man for perhaps 20 years, to handle all the things like investments and taxes, and are now suddenly out on their own.
Like you, I’ve seen a lot. A lot of suffering. I know of a woman whose husband locked her out of her bank account, forcing her to sell off furniture to buy groceries for her and her kids.
(I know: You’re, right now, saying: “He can’t do that! She could get an emergency order from a judge to keep her from being locked out of that account!” I’m no lawyer, but I know that, too. More importantly, I know that women facing divorce need to get a lawyer on their side ASAP—which is why I’m a good source of referrals, once you start to work with me.)
So the typical woman I work with, now facing divorce, lacks the knowledge and sophistication to handle the previously-shared assets: what they are, how much, where they are. I help with all of these things, and the tax implications, too—all of the financial information that you, as an attorney, don’t want to (and can’t charge to) handle.
And then there’s the kids. As you’re well aware, this is the most heartbreaking aspect of any divorce. It’s also one of the most financially challenging. In Arizona, there’s a formula for the guidelines for child support. These guidelines aren’t the best. I’ve seen husbands earning $20k a month, and yet the guidelines let them skate by with only about $300 a month in payment per child. This punishes the mother unduly, and, adding insult to injury, makes the father look like a “Disneyland dad” in the kids’ eyes, as he lavishly treats them to expensive outings when they’re with him.
I can help with the financial nuances of arguing for parenting time. Just because it may be agreed at 50/50, 1) it often works out to more like 80/20, with the wife doing more and getting less; and 2) even at 50/50, the expenses don’t drop by half—that agreement, for example, doesn’t change a mortgage payment.
I’m not just a CPA and a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. I’m also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®. I know of no one else in Arizona with that trifecta of certifications, which really lets me focus on divorce.
That’s the professional side. On the personal side, I want to help women struggling through this. I know that they can be fully cogent and happy one week, and then cross, or in tears, the next. It’s a grieving process that’s anything but linear, and I can help them.
Which gets to the last, if painful, item on my resume: I’m divorced, too. I had one young child, and was eight months pregnant with my second, when my then-husband left the marriage. I was back at work—managing a McDonald’s—three weeks after giving birth to my second child. You can read my whole story here, but suffice to say, I dug myself out of that hole. I’d never be an “out-spouse” today. That’s why I want to bring my experience, and compassion, to women facing similar situations.