MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: Hi, I’m Monica Donaldson Stewart and I’m a family law attorney in Chandler, Arizona.
MICHAEL JUILFS: And I’m Michael Juilfs and I’m a certified financial planner and certified divorce financial analyst with Fair Share Divorce in Scottsdale, Arizona.
MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: One of the more common arrangements in family law situations is for an attorney to charge a retainer or an advanced deposit for the cost of the legal fees. And as any attorney will explain to their client, the advanced deposit or that retainer is not necessarily an expectation of what the final cost is going to be.
There are a number of factors that can affect the ultimate cost, and the deposit is just intended to cover a certain period of time that may or may not represent what the entire case is going to look like. Certainly, the cost of the case can vary and a lot of that has to do with the cooperation shown between the spouses as they go through the process.
We also find that in a collaborative process, the use of a financial neutral can assist in significantly managing what the costs of a case can be.
Can you tell us how that works?
MICHAEL JUILFS: Sure. In a litigated case, one of the most costly segments of that is the disclosure of financial information between the parties. And the more cooperation we have there, the more efficient that can be. So in a typical litigated case, you have both attorneys that are collecting information, reviewing that information, so you kind of double work there.
Whereas in a collaborative case, you have one financial neutral that does that work. And that’s what they do best because they deal in finances every day, whereas the attorneys, while they may be great legal minds, maybe aren’t the most astute in reading financial statements.
And so in the collaborative process, a financial prepares a report that is disseminated to both attorneys and both clients in preparation for that first settlement meeting. And it’s much more efficient and there’s no need for subpoenas and things like that that might be necessary in a litigated case, thereby controlling those discovery or disclosure costs to a great degree.