Finance

Divorcing Without Lawyers

Mediators help couples make better financial decisions

Most couples planning to divorce without using an attorney (or simply considering the move) can benefit from the services of a divorce mediator to help them understand the financial aspects of ending their marriage.

In recent years, more than half of couples divorcing do so without an attorney. Divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst John Morrison, M.A., said that in 95 percent of his mediation cases, the couple obtains enough information and support to reach full agreement on terms of their divorce without the assistance of lawyers. Their total cost through mediation is therefore much less than a traditional divorce.

morrison 500x700After completing a master’s degree in conflict resolution, Morrison became a divorce mediator and opened Morrison Mediation, southern California, in 2011. He soon realized that more than 80 percent of his discussions with clients revolved around financial issues.

Morrison said he became a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) so he could provide the most value to his clients. His training and experience enable him to help couples and individuals carefully consider the short- and long-term financial and tax implications of ending a marriage. Few divorce mediators or attorneys become a CDFA, he added.

“Many people are not very financially savvy,” he said. “I’m able to help each person clearly understand all their assets and debts, child support, and spousal support so they can understand their options and make well-informed decisions.”

Now based in in Mission Viejo, California, there are two main ways Morrison works with people considering or engaged in a divorce. The first is to serve as a mediator to help couples work out their own comprehensive divorce agreement. Couples who can reach such an agreement that covers all the issues generally do not need a lawyer, he said. Sharing his financial and tax expertise with couples in mediation also enables them to avoid going to court.

The second way is helping individuals who request his input as a CDFA. Some people consult with him on the financial implications of a possible divorce, while others may seek his opinion on proposals from their spouse or the spouse’s attorney.

One of Morrison’s top priorities is providing information and support for families facing real-world problems. Beyond his practice, he has written more than 100 articles on divorce and mediation that provide professional guidance to help demystify the entire process.

“A major problem within the divorce industry is its focus on high-income clients who can pay hefty fees to handle complex situations. However, many lower- and middle-class divorcing couples cannot afford lawyers and nearly all want to avoid prolonged court battles. A lot of people are living almost paycheck to paycheck, and they don’t have a lot of savings.

Mediation with a qualified mediator is a great alternative for them,” Morrison said.

For more information on Morrison Mediation, visit: morrisonmediation.com

 

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