Collaborative Practice Toronto is a community of collaborative professionals working to provide information to families considering a collaborative divorce. We also exist as a resource for legal, family, and financial professionals looking to become involved with collaborative practice. We regularly ask our members to provide our blog readers with expert answers to common questions we receive about collaborative practice.
This week, Dwayne Pyper shares his experience working through escalating financial conflict with couples seeking a divorce.
Q: What is the best way to prevent financial conflict during a divorce?
My experience is that financial conflict escalates throughout the divorce process and is primarily due to:
- An inability of parties to separate their personal feelings for each other from the task at hand.
- A lack of complete, open, honest disclosure between parties.
- Improper hiring of financial professionals.
When it comes to preventing financial conflict from escalating during a divorce, both parties need to work with their legal counsel very early in the process to set the ground rules in all three of these areas.
To begin, separating couples and their lawyers confirm that they would like the entire process to be constructive rather than argumentative. They need to treat each other with respect and understand that if they don’t participate fairly in the process, it will only lead to protracted litigation, higher costs, and mental anguish.
As for the hiring of financial professionals, I believe it is preferable for both individuals to jointly hire a single financial professional to prepare the calculations they will need for a negotiated settlement. If that is not possible, and each side is going to hire financial professionals to prepare separate formal reports, then each side must be willing to allow both professionals access to the parties on both sides. This is the only way to ensure that the professional(s) engaged balance the input of both parties rather than getting a slanted, one-sided view.
Dwayne N. Pyper, CPA, CA, CBV
Partner, Business Valuations
Duward Jones Barkwell & Company LLP