Financial Experts

In many family law cases, we encounter the issue of financial experts, particularly where the parties have been married for a substantial period of time. They’ve acquired a lot of assets or property. They have a lot of accounts, or maybe where one of the parties has been a self employed business entrepreneur and has developed his or her own business. There’s different kinds of financial experts in many of these cases. I want to talk to you a little bit about that. When folks have a home and they need to determine what the value of that home is in their divorce, they usually need a real estate appraiser to do that.

I had one case where the parties had an extensive art collection from all over the world and they needed someone to give them a value of their art. Another kind of expert we use often in these cases is called a forensic CPA or a forensic accountant. These kinds of experts are familiar with the tax code, they’re familiar with how to calculate present value for the determination of division of property, such as retirement accounts and pension accounts. They can prepare what they call marital spreadsheets which will be a document in a spreadsheet like an Excel spreadsheet that will state what the parties own and what all of their accounts are including bank and retirement accounts and what their debts are, and to determine what the best way would be to divide the marital estate. Experts are extremely valuable in certain family law cases, and I urge you to talk to your lawyer about whether you need those kinds of experts or not.

Contact Shayne Law if you have any questions.

Survivor Benefits In Divorce

Let’s discuss a big issue that usually comes up in marriages that have been in progress for five, 10 years or more, and that is the issue that deals with survivor benefits. What kind of survivor benefits, and how do those come into play in a property division situation? Survivor benefits mean that the parties, either one or both parties, have a pension retirement account or a military retirement. In the typical example of a military retirement, the military member has served 20 plus years, and at the end of a military career, the military member has to make an election as to whether or not he or she is going to accept survivor benefits as part of the retirement. There’s a cost associated with that.

Let’s assume you have a 20-year marriage and over the entire course of the 20 years the husband served active duty in the Air Force. Now he’s retired and the parties are going through a divorce. Survivor benefit would say that the parties have elected to name the wife as the survivor in the event that the former military member pre-deceases the former spouse. This is like a life insurance policy that protects the former spouse and ensures that the former spouse is going to receive a military retiree income if the military member dies before the former spouse.

Another way to address this is through specific retirement plans or pension plans that have a survivor benefit component to it. It is always a good idea to check with a lawyer to review those plans when you’re going through a divorce to make sure that if your spouse has had a pension and retirement account, and something happens to your spouse, that you’re going to get your share long after your spouse passes away.

Lastly, I want to talk about life insurance which is a very important issue in almost all family law cases, because if you have children, most courts are going to say that you need to name the children as beneficiaries to a life insurance policy. If you have a pension and retirement account, or even if you’ve done a military retirement that you can still have life insurance when SBP has been waived, survivor benefits have been waived so that the former spouse is protected in the event that the spouse who’s had the retirement account passes away.

Keep in mind that in Colorado a military retirement, a pension, or a retirement account, is treated as property. It doesn’t matter to a judge that one party or the other had the pension or retirement account. What the court is going to look at is the law in Colorado and say, was that pension, retirement account, or military retirement, was that acquired during the course of the marriage, and if so, what is the value of the marital share of that pension and retirement account? SBP, survivor benefits, are very important when you are discussing how those moneys should divided in any kind of a divorce or legal separation. You want to make sure that you have a qualified lawyer to discuss that with you.

How a Colorado Court Divides a Marital Business

The division of property in divorce can be highly contested. If the divorcing parties were also business partners, it can be especially complicated. A Marital Business is one that is defined as a business or enterprise that employs one or both of the parties from which income or business losses or expenses flow to the personal incomes of the parties to the marriage. Continue reading “How a Colorado Court Divides a Marital Business” »