During a divorce, many couples require the expert advice of professionals from a variety of different disciplines, including accounting, finance, psychology and other areas. The preference is to find someone who is not biased toward one party or the other – a neutral expert or simply, a neutral. These professionals can advise both parties in the divorce without concern regarding bias or conflicts of interest. This makes examining assets or determining parental fitness simpler and may reduce the time spent in litigation, reducing legal costs and streamlining the process somewhat.
Services Where Neutrals are Most Useful
Broadly, the areas where a couple is most likely to employ the services of a neutral are in financial areas and those effecting child custody. They would hire a neutral expert together, possibly using a listing of service providers utilized by the court system for this purpose. The couple would choose a provider with whom they have had no previous contact or relationship.
In terms of financial services, at the beginning of a divorce, many people are unaware of the value of what they own, their total assets, and even their debts. Employing a professional with an objective viewpoint can be extremely helpful here. Appraisers can help determine the value of jointly or independently owned property. Accountants can prepare statements regarding income and investment accounts. Financial planners can help explore big-picture and long-term financial issues, including putting children through college, planning for retirement, and other more individualized issues.
Another important area where neutrals typically practice their skill sets is child custody issues. A guardian ad litem is one type of expert neutral used by the courts to determine the best interest of a child in a custody case. These are sometimes attorneys, but in many cases, they come from other professions. This court-appointed neutral can offer a much-needed neutral opinion when a custody battle is especially contentious.
Having a family, parenting or mental health professional objectively evaluate each parent’s ability to be a good parent can help make determining custody easier for the court. The results become more even-handed, especially in cases where both parties are equally capable of caring for their children. In cases where one parent may be an entirely unsuitable choice, this can also help children to avoid an unstable or abusive living situation.
Advantages of Using a Neutral
Estimates indicate that using a financial neutral as a part of a collaborative divorce can reduce the total costs associated with the by process by as much as half. This can be a lifesaver in terms of avoiding financial discomfort in the present and in the long term. It also helps to ensure that neither party is easily taken advantage of by the other having a savvier or more experienced attorney. Using a neutral can also expedite the divorce process compared to going through litigation for all aspects. This can help reduce some of the stress involved without making unwanted sacrifices regarding personal and financial goals.
Neutrals after the Divorce is Finalized
In order for neutrality to be maintained, individuals are generally barred from continuing to use the services of the neutrals they used during the divorce. This is good for both professionals and their clients because they do not have a potential conflict or interests and clients know that advice is not based on the hope of future or continued utilization of their services. Everything remains above board and ethical.
Overall, the use of neutrals in divorce cases can be very helpful in reducing stress, time and costs. They can also ensure that information is accurate and unbiased, thanks to their expertise and objectivity. Neutrals are especially useful in collaborative divorces and in the financial arena in general. They can also be useful in making complex child custody and welfare decisions. Following the completion of the divorce process, the professional relationships end in favor of maintaining ethical standards and unbiased neutrality.