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Divorce and Your Money - #1 Divorce Podcast

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If you are currently going through a divorce or soon will be, Divorce and Your Money is the perfect podcast for you. The author, Shawn C. H. Leamon (MBA), is a professional and well-respected financial advisor and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. His podcast provides real-world practical advice, including tips and checklists to help women and men protect their financial interests and future. Continue Reading >>
If you are currently going through a divorce or soon will be, Divorce and Your Money is the perfect podcast for you. The author, Shawn C. H. Leamon (MBA), is a professional and well-respected financial advisor and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. His podcast provides real-world practical advice, including tips and checklists to help women and men protect their financial interests and future. << Show Less
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How to Get Divorce Help Podcast episodes are coming less frequently, but I am still here to help you.   Book a one-on-one coaching call: https://divorceandyourmoney.com/coaching/ Get ALL the podcast episodes in the Quick Start Guide here Get the book Divorce and Your Money: How to Avoid Costly Divorce Mistakes on Amazon
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How to Get Divorce Help Podcast episodes are coming less frequently, but I am still here to help you.   Book a one-on-one coaching call: https://divorceandyourmoney.com/coaching/ Get ALL the podcast episodes in the Quick Start Guide here Get the book Divorce and Your Money: How to Avoid Costly Divorce Mistakes on Amazon
0232: How Does Spousal Support Work? - Part 2 0232: How Does Spousal Support Work? - Part 2 Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help.   In this episode, we are continuing the series on spousal support/alimony, whatever name you want to call it. And the importance of this episode is to cover the different types of spousal support or alimony available. I'm going to go through five different types, temporary support, permanent support, rehabilitative support, lump sum, and partial lump-sum support. So, let's jump in. Let's start with temporary support. Temporary support, generally speaking, is - before or during the divorce process - you have a temporary support amount you may be paying or receiving. It's the support you agree upon before the divorce is over. Pretty clear. The important thing to know about temporary agreements, and I say this almost every day on calls or when people are negotiating, whether you're the person about to pay or receive temporary spousal support, be very careful about what you decide. The numbers that you agree upon for temporary support often become the support numbers you use after divorce. And so, if you agree to a $1,000 a month, oftentimes the agreement after the divorce will be $1,000 a month. There is a lot less flexibility. Generally speaking, once you agree upon a temporary support number that often becomes the final support amount that you use after the divorce process. So, something to be very careful about there. Permanent support. Permanent support is what it sounds like. Permanent support is support for life. It's generally speaking, not as common as it used to be. If you were in a long-term marriage and you didn't work and you're near retirement age, there may be a permanent support amount, but if you are relatively young, then there usually isn't permanent support. It's not something that's automatic or even expected the way it once used to be. That said, it still exists, and that's something that you should be aware of. Every state, of course, as always has its own circumstances in revolving permanent support. Now, there's something between temporary and permanent support that wasn't on my list that I want to jump in, is there's just what your final support amount is. So, it's just what you negotiate. It doesn't necessarily have a fancy name other than your alimony number. So, if your alimony is $1,000 a month for eight years, either paying or receiving, that's just the amount. That's not temporary, that's not permanent, that's just your amount. So, that is the alimony payment. I just want to make that distinction in there very quickly. There's something called rehabilitative support. And it's not always known by that name, but I'm going to go through what it means because its meaning is very relevant to many of the discussions that I have, and that you may be thinking about when it comes to thinking about support and what makes sense. So, rehabilitative support is a very simple concept and that is either you or your spouse may need some additional training to get back on their feet and start earning a reasonable living after the divorce process. If they've been out of the workforce for a period of time, or if you've been out of the workforce for a period of time, it might take one, two, five years to get back on your feet or for your spouse to get back on their feet. And so, in a rehabilitative support model, what often happens is you pay a higher amount of spousal support or receive a higher amount of spousal support for the first few years while that spouse gets their training. So, if they're going to become a paralegal, go back to college, get an advanced degree, some sort of free training, whatever the case may be. Well, you might say, "Well, I'm going to agree to a higher level of support for the first three years that person gets to get back on their feet." And then it's presumed that after those three years, they'll have their certification, they can earn a good living for themselves. And then the support amount declines or goes away or whatever it is that you negotiate. That's what's called rehabilitative support. And it's just there to allow someone to retrain and then start earning funds on their own. So, that's something to think about when it comes to support models. The last two are lump sum and partial lump-sum support. You'll understand lump sum very clearly. A lump sum is paying all the support in one payment, instead of paying it over time or receiving all of your support in one payment, instead of receiving it over time. It's a topic I've discussed on the podcast before. If you haven't gotten the archives with all the podcast episodes, I encourage you to do that. There are some extensive details on how lump sum support can work and ways to negotiate it in that archive of all of the 200 plus podcast episodes, not all of wh
0231: How Does Spousal Support Work? - Part 1 Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help.   All right. Today, I want to talk about a very basic and essential topic that is worth your understanding and understanding the nuances of it, and that is spousal support. And when I talk about spousal support, I also mean alimony in there as well. Spousal support or alimony is the same term used interchangeably. Sometimes I'll refer to it as spousal support, sometimes I might say alimony, but know that they are the exact same thing. There's a lot of details that you should know about alimony or spousal support, and I want to make sure you understand the basics of it. Let's start with just a simple definition. What it is, is a court-ordered provision of money for one spouse after divorce, or sometimes separation as well. Spousal support is a very important concept. You may be on the paying end of support, you may be on the receiving end. But oftentimes, people ask, "Well, why do I have to pay support?" or, "Shouldn't I be receiving spousal support?" And you should kind of understand why it exists. Very simply, one spouse pays the other money, usually on a semi-regular basis. And the reason it exists is that most of the time, both spouses don't have equal resources. Usually, one spouse earns more than the other, and to make up for that difference, they have spousal support. Particularly, in a longer marriage where if you've been married for a long time, and if you're getting divorced and one spouse didn't work or barely worked part-time, that income difference can be substantial. Sometimes, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year a difference and so spousal support is there to make sure that the lower-earning spouse does not end up without any form of income after the divorce process is over. Why it came into play, if you look up the history of spousal support, why it even exists, is actually, once upon a time, you could get divorced but oftentimes, if we are assuming traditional gender roles, the wife would be left destitute. The husband who has had some sort of profession many, many decades ago before divorce laws evolved would work the job, the wife would stay at home if you think of the traditional family as it used to be. Before spousal support, if a wife were to get divorced, the wife would have no money and they would have to start over with basically nothing. They would be destitute. And so, spousal support was enacted by just about every state to minimize that from happening and keep that from happening in this situation of divorce, like other evolutions in divorce include no-fault divorce laws, which I've talked about on the podcast. It used to be the case where you had to prove a reason that you were getting divorced. Now you can get divorced for any reason at all in any state. Look, there are pros and cons and what not to everything, but just want to give a little bit of context there.   Now, the big question that I get asked a lot is, "How much alimony am I going to get?" And the answer to that is it depends. There are numerous factors that are considered. Now, every state has its own nuances to how spousal support is determined. Some of them, it's a little bit more formulaic. More often, it is almost just whatever you and your spouse agree to or whatever a court decides is the amount of support that's going to be paid, and there are very few guidelines. Particularly, for my California listeners... I work with a lot of people in California, a lot of people in New York... Now, I work with people everywhere but in those two states in particular people, the question is, "How much support am I going to pay?" And the answer is, well, we're going to have to figure it out and negotiate it because it's not a hard and fast rule in terms of spousal support.  So there are a lot of nuances to the spousal support question and what financial status means, and trying to give a bunch of examples is a little bit tricky because everyone's situation is different depending on state and income level and savings and earnings, et cetera. So, I won't try and dive into 50 different examples of ways spousal support might be calculated just based on the financial status question, but something to think about. The next issue is living conditions and lifestyle. Some people who make $500,000 a year spend $600,000 a year, which means they have a lot of debt. I also know families who make $500,000 a year who spend $80,000 a year, and they save a substantial amount of money every year. The point is, is that lifestyles can vary dramatically between families. And if you are in a situation where you or your spouse doesn't spend very much money, there may be the case for lower support amounts going forward. Now, it doesn't apply in every state and every situation, but something to think about. Earni
0230: A Restraining Order to Protect Your Money in Divorce (Automatic Temporary Restraining Order) Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help. Almost half the people I talk to on a given day or week have yet to file for divorce. And they are in the planning phases and are trying to figure out their options. Now, I'm never an advocate for divorce, but there's one situation in which I encourage people to file sooner over later. And the reason is because, when you file for divorce, you generally have additional protections when it comes to financial decisions that are made. And specifically, most divorce filings include something that's called a temporary restraining order or automatic temporary restraining order, depending upon your state. And what that means is that neither spouse is allowed to make big financial decisions once the divorce is filed. And the reason that's important is oftentimes I hear people saying, "Well, my spouse is thinking about doing this. Should I go along with it? Or how can I stop this from happening? Or how do I protect myself if my spouse does that?" And oftentimes the only answer is, if this is something you're really worried about, you need to file for divorce now to protect yourself and to prevent your spouse from making this particular financial decision that could be very harmful to your future particularly when divorce is on the horizon. And this temporary restraining order or automatic temporary restraining order, as I said, prevents your spouse and you as well, but your spouse from making big financial moves. And what are those? Those could be something like selling property, transferring property, borrowing, like taking on a big debt, changing your insurance policies, withdrawing, that's a word I have a lot of trouble with, withdrawing large sums of money from bank accounts, destroying or hiding assets, paying down big debts, taking on big debts, making a big purchase, things like that. And the restraining order, which you get when you file, is there to protect you and to keep your spouse from doing those things. Now, it gets a little complicated because there are two things that are really important notes to think about. The first is that you can still do stuff that's in the normal course of business. Had a really challenging case lately where the spouses were business owners and they were filing for divorce, and they were trying to figure out how to still continue... They had a very, very successful business, but they buy and sell, I'm just going to use the word property very generally, regularly. I mean, that was basically what the nature of their business is. They buy and sell lots of properties. And so, the question was, under this temporary restraining order, how do we keep running the business the way we need to run the business, given that basically, all they do is large transactions and how to make that work efficiently. But other times I hear people saying, "My spouse is about to withdraw a bunch of money or transfer a bunch of money to here or there." And that's when that restraining order comes into play. But the point of all of that is just to say, the restraining order’s first important note is that you're still allowed to pay your groceries, pay your bills, pay your mortgage, do the normal things that you do to run a normal life. It's not meant to stop spending completely because that would be unrealistic. The second thing that you should know is that it's not perfect. And what I say by it's not perfect is, just because you have this restraining order in effect doesn't mean that your bank knows, doesn't mean your credit card company knows, doesn't mean that all of the institutions know what's going on. So even though there may be this restraining order in effect, if your bank doesn't know, your spouse could theoretically make some big transfers to different places. And, yeah, that'll come up later in the discussion, but it is not something that automatically goes in place to every institution that you work with. And so, it's something that you need to be aware of and you need to communicate these things with all of your various service providers to make sure that they follow through with what's on the instructions. Now, of course, there will be or there can be consequences down the line if your spouse violates this restraining order, this temporary restraining order. However, the issue is that you have to deal with that later. Meaning, it could take a month or two or several months to get back what has been taken even after that restraining order. And I'll give you a scenario that comes up almost every week or two that someone calls me about, is they say, "Hey, my spouse is from a foreign country." It doesn't really matter which country, but another country. "How do I protect myself?" And the big issue is, that spouse could at any moment
0229: What Date Do You Value Assets in Divorce? Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help.   A question that's been coming up quite a bit is what day or what month do I use to value all of my stuff? What day do I pick to value the house, value the retirement account, use what numbers in the bank account? Is it June of this year? Is it April of last year? Is it when I filed for divorce? And or is it when the trial date is coming up? What day do I use to pick to value all of our stuff? And it's a really important question and a really complicated question because the date that you value all of your stuff can have really important impacts. I'll give you just a few examples so you know what I'm talking about. Let's just say you separated two years ago, and now you're finally getting to the divorce negotiation, which is a very common situation. Well, two years ago, your house may have been worth $500,000, but let's say now your house is worth $700,000. And you're planning on keeping the house. Do you use the $500,000 valuation from two years ago, or do you use the $700,000 valuation? Or a more complicated subject that I've been dealing with a lot lately is people who have stock options. This one's a very tricky one, but if you have stock options, those options often have certain grant dates where you get more options or certain exercises dates where those options get a lot more liquid or have more value. And so, one of the things that gets complicated is, well, when you're trying to get divorced or you or your spouse has stock options, not only what date do you use to value those options? Because generally speaking, oftentimes those options can fluctuate substantially in value over time, but also how many options are actual marital property versus not? And trying to figure that out can be very important. And the reason I bring up this subject is it is something that you should be thinking of. And then the third example that actually happens is a very simple one that actually doesn't have a lot of complications, but something you should be thinking about, which is, let's just say, I was talking to someone this morning about this. Let's just say you and your spouse are going to negotiate things yourselves, and it's relatively amicable, all things considered. And you're trying to figure out, well, what day do we use to pick for the bank accounts? Do we use last month? Do we use three months ago, whatever it is? And we just want to make sure that we're all on the same page and that could be a simple situation, but the point is, is that all of your property fluctuates. Oh, and then one more, sorry, I said that one more example, but if you think about a retirement account or a stock brokerage account or an investment account. Investments in your account fluctuate every day. And so if you were to calculate your investments on April 5th, that same investment account will have a totally different value on April 6th. And it could have a very different value in July of the next year. So there are a lot of things to think about when it comes to what date you pick to value assets. And I just want to give you some things to think about. And the important thing about this episode is to know what date to pick and to be thinking about what date to use. And it may give you some thoughts in terms of what timing you should pursue when it comes to your divorce process. And another way to think about the date that you value the assets is your separation date. And the goal in your divorce is to have a date where all of your assets, all of your debts are valued as of that date. So there is no confusion. So things go up in the future, that's not something that gets discussed. If things go down in the future, that's not something that really gets discussed either. The goal is to have it consistent going forward. Now, what is extra complicated about this topic is two things. One is that every state has very different laws as to how the separation date or the date that you value assets gets calculated. On top of that, it can change within the divorce process and depending on your state's rules. And so you need to really understand and talk with an attorney about the ways that your assets may be valued and sometimes revalued. And I'll give you some examples of what the options might be. So in some states, you use the date that you separated. Now, what does separation mean? For some people, it's very clear. The data separation could be the date that one spouse moves out of the house, or I talk to plenty of people where one spouse lives upstairs. The other spouse lives in the basement. And you could use that as the date of separation, but oftentimes you are still living under the same roof, pretty much in the same space. And it's hard to determine what that date of separation is. And someti
0228: How Do You Keep Separate Property Separate? (Or Prove Separate Property is Actually Marital Property?) Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help. It's been a few months since I recorded a new episode and not because I haven't been working, but because been working a little too much and got behind on the podcast episode. So apologies for that. Thank you to all 0f the people who I've been speaking to over the past several weeks and months, there've been lots and lots of good questions and, and coaching calls coming in. And I want to get back in helping educate you on the different intricacies of the divorce process. And this episode specifically, I want to talk about some subjects that have been coming up quite a bit.   And the first one I'd like to talk about is how do you keep your separate property separate? And also, how do you know if a separate property or what's being called separate property is actually marital property. And if you've been listening to other episodes, you know what I'm talking about in the context, but the big issue is, let's say you had some money.   When I say property, it could be something like money. It could be a physical property. It could be, a retirement account, a car, whatever. Let's say you had something before you got married. How do you make sure that if you're now, unfortunately, facing divorce, that is still considered separate property? What kind of things can you do? Or should you be doing? And conversely, if your ex-spouse, for instance, is saying, well, this is separate property, but, but you think it's actually something that you should be splitting between the two of you. How do you broach and go down that discussion? It's a very common topic that comes up every, every few days in terms of people that I get to speak with. And there are a few things to consider here.   And let's take it from the perspective of you have some separate property. Maybe you got an inheritance as a, maybe you had something when you got married, there's a lot of different types of separate property. How do you make sure that it stays separate? A few things.   The first is to keep good records. Now keeping good records, doesn't ensure that something is separate, stay separate. However, keeping good records can ensure that you can at least be able to prove the argument one way or another in terms of what is going on. So you need to make sure that you can keep good records. Now it becomes a challenge when sometimes you've been married for, someone called me, I spoke to just the other day, who'd been married for 31 years and there was a separate property question and there's no way to get the records. And so we were talking about some advanced strategies in terms of, getting affidavits from a parent who's still around and, and other siblings who are on the receiving end of this inheritance when everyone got the same amount, et cetera, et cetera. In lieu of being able to have actual records, they had to approach a different direction.   But if you have things like bank accounts or old account's statements, some of these institutions keep account statements for, for a decade or more, or if you walk straight into your bank, sometimes they can pull if you've used the same bank for a long time and they're still around. Oftentimes they have good records that go back further than what you may build, ask or access online, or just to get when you stroll in, if you just talk to a casual person at the bank. But anything you can do to get old records, old communications that indicate when you received some form of property and how much it was at the time it can bolster your case.   The second thing is to avoid co-mingling is a term that if you listen to the podcast, you should've heard before. But co-mingling is just the idea that you may mix your separate assets with your marital assets. Simple as that. And what does that mean? Well, let's just say you got an inheritance and then you got an inheritance of $100 and you put 50 of it into your joint checking account. Well, now you have co-mingled that money. And then you spend that $50 on groceries. Well, is that still separate property? And the answer is it gets really tough and you're probably dealing with marital property at that point. And there's not much for you to do. But if you keep that a hundred dollars that you got as an inheritance in its own bank account, and you didn't ever put your spouse's name on it and you didn't touch it, if for, for normal family purposes, then you will have a much better shot at keeping that account separate.   Now, of course, you always need to have your records and you need to always keep that account in your name. And if you're adding in some tracking to that account, all of a sudden the math gets messy unless you have those records, but it is something that is doable. And the cleaner you keep that separat
0227: Infidelity, Divorce, and How to Prepare - Interview with Dr. Marie Murphy, Relationship Coach 0227 - Infidelity, Divorce, and How to Prepare - Interview with Dr. Marie Murphy, Relationship Coach In this episode, we have an interview with Dr. Marie Murphy, Relationship Coach, and Host of Your Secret is Safe With Me podcast, a non-judgmental talk about infidelity. Learn more aboutMarien here: https://www.mariemurphyphd.com/about.   Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help. Dr. Marie Murphy: Hi, everyone. I'm Dr. Marie Murphy. This podcast is all about expanding the conversation around infidelity. I'm a relationship coach and I specialize in helping people who are having affairs make decisions about how to move forward that are truly right for them. On this show, we feature tools and guidance from my coaching practice, as well as advice from other professionals whose work pertains to the sometimes complicated business of romantic relationships. Today, I have the pleasure of talking with Shawn Leamon, host of the Divorce and Your Money podcast. Shawn received his Bachelor's degree in economics and philosophy from Dartmouth College and his M.B.A. from the I.E. Business School in Madrid, Spain. Shawn is a certified divorce financial analyst and provides financial advice for people who are divorced podcast and his work with one-on-one clients. You can learn more about Shawn's services at DivorceAndYourMoney.com. In his personal life, Shawn loves to push his physical and mental limits as an ultra-endurance athlete, and as an avid traveler, Shawn spends his time between his offices in Dallas, New York City, and Hanover, New Hampshire. He can often be found wandering the globe, and of the more than 20 countries he has visited, Brazil and Monaco are two of his favorites. Before we get to today's episode, I want to let you that today's show is brought to you by Marie Murphy, Ph.D. Relationship Coaching. That's me. I provide shame-free, blame-free, non-judgmental relationship coaching. You can talk to me about the things that seem too messy or weird or stigmatized to share with your best friend or your spouse, or even your therapist, including but not limited to matters related to infidelity. To learn more about my work, go to MarieMurphyPhD.com. Now, today's episode. Shawn, welcome, it's great to have you here! Shawn Leamon: Hi, Marie! Thank you for having me. Dr. Marie Murphy: It's a pleasure. You have an awesome book that is called Divorce and Your Money, if I'm not mistaken. Shawn Leamon: That's right. Dr. Marie Murphy: Right? Yeah, okay, great. I recommend this book to anyone who is staring down the barrel of divorce. It is clear and packed with hopeful guidance, and one of the things that's really interesting that you talk about is the value, and often the necessity, of having a really good divorce lawyer, but you also talk about the limits of what attorneys provide clients who are going through divorces. I think you quoted an attorney that you know as saying, "We attorneys went to law school so we wouldn't have to do math," and I can certainly relate to that, even though I'm not an attorney. Can you say more about the limits of what attorneys provide, and why it's important to have a financial advisor, as well? Shawn Leamon: Most certainly. I think at a high level, there's three major issues that go on in divorce. One is, of course, the emotional side: the relationship, your own emotions, emotions of your spouse, kids, et cetera. Of course, you should have help with that aspect. The other element is divorce is, by nature, a legal transaction. Marriage is a piece of paper. Divorce, conversely, is another piece of paper that says that you're divorced. There are a lot of legalities to how to split up a couple and all that entails, and that's where having a good lawyer will help you. Then on the other side of it is the third part of the financial element, which is all of your money. You're talking about houses, retirement accounts, how much support someone may pay or receive; what you're going to work later in life; are you going to move? How are you going to provide for the kids long-term? Is there a college fund or a retirement that may be derailed because of this process? So, there are always many, many, many financial considerations in the divorce process, and it's very good, both during the divorce process, but also after the process, to work with a financial advisor because the things that your attorney is going to be negotiating for you, or at least many of the things the attorney is going to be negotiating for you, are going to affect you for a long period of time, perhaps many decades. So, getting those key financial pieces right and knowing what you should be thinking about during the process is very important so that you have a go
0226: All About Divorce Mediation with Monica Mazzei, Mediator & Family Law Attorney in California In this episode, we interview Monica Mazzei, a top family law attorney in California with almost 20 years of experience. She will give us the ins and outs of mediation - and how it can be a great tool to resolve even the most complex divorces. To reach Monica directly, here is her contact information:   Monica Mazzei Sideman & Bancroft 415.392.1960 mmazzei@sideman.com https://www.sideman.com/professionals/monica-mazzei/ San Francisco, CA   Find the full transcript of the episode below. Shawn Leamon: In this episode, I get to interview Monica Mazzei. And she is one of the top family lawyers in California. She’s worked on dozens if not hundreds of really impressive cases with some super successful people in California. And in our episode, she is going to talk to us all about mediation, the ins and outs, how it works, how to make sure it’s a good fit for you, how to get the most out of it. And why mediation may be really useful for your situation and why it’s something that you should consider, particularly in a world in which many courts are still closed, or at least are extra slow in a pandemic world. And mediation may be one of the only ways you can get your divorce resolved in a reasonable timeframe. And it’s a much faster process. It is a more private process and Monica is going to walk us through all of the details of that. And for you listeners in California as well, as an added bonus she may be a good fit for you. So just something to think about. Without further ado here’s my interview with Monica. So today on the show I have with me Monica Mazzei. An attorney and partner at Simon and Bancroft based in San Francisco. Monica, welcome to the show. Monica Mazzei: Why thank you. Happy to be here. Shawn Leamon: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are, where you’re from, your legal background, before we get into the meat of today’s episode which is all about mediation. Monica Mazzei: So my name is Monica Mazzei. I have been practicing family law exclusively for nearly 20 years. I started practicing family law in Beverly Hills. And for the last 15 years my practice has been in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. I handle the financial part of the divorce, but I don’t handle any child custody. So I have a pretty unusual practice in that way. And being in the Bay Area as you can imagine, I work with a lot of technology companies, high net worth clients, and really enjoy practicing family law. Shawn Leamon: And I want to get into mediation in a moment, but is mediation the focus of your practice or have you done other things in the past? I just want to get a feel and set the audience up for a little bit of your legal background and expertise. Monica Mazzei: So my practice over the last year has been transitioning from representing clients in a traditional way in the divorce, representing one party either in settlement conferences or in litigation. Now transitioning to serving as a mediator. So I work with both parties to help facilitate an agreement. Those parties usually have their own independent attorneys that they consult with. But I’m there as a neutral third party to tell them what the law is, identify the issues, brainstorm ideas, and help them work out an agreement outside the court system. Shawn Leamon: So let’s talk about the mechanics of that. And I think it’s very useful to have had the background from the traditional perspective that now you get to work with both sides and come with creative solutions. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more of just what is mediation and how does it work? And it’s a topic that everyone knows about in concept, but a lot of people don’t really know the details of what is mediation like. You said you’re the neutral person, but you also mentioned something about people also have their own attorneys. So can you kind of set up the background on the basics of mediation for us? Monica Mazzei: Sure. So traditional mediation is when two parties meet with the mediator, nowadays it’s all by Zoom. In the pre-COVID world it was in-person with just husband and wife and the mediator in the room. And the mediator doesn’t represent either person. The mediator’s job is to tell you what the law is, identify the issues and give you some ideas about how you could come to a compromise that will work for both people. That’s a traditional mediation. Another version of mediation is where the parties show up and they each have an attorney with them. And so it’s kind of a group effort, a group mediation. And that you see in cases where there might be more complicated issues or very high net worth estates. Might be more of a group mediation with the attorneys. But I would say the most common and the traditional way is just the parties and the mediator, the three people. S
0225: Understanding Commingling In Divorce - And How to Protect Yourself Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help.   In this episode, I want to discuss an important term called co-mingling. That is the process in which you can inadvertently make separate property, marital property. Co-mingling is a very important term when it comes to divorce, and I'm going to use an example of an inheritance because it's a very common example.   Let's just say you receive an inheritance from your mom, I'm just going to make it up, and let's just say you received $100,000 from your mom because unfortunately, she passed away. Well, if you receive that money, the perfect circumstance or the ideal circumstance is you deposit that money into a separate bank account and you never move it to your joint bank account and you only track and... In a perfect world, you don't even spend that money. You save it for a rainy day. But let's just say you have to use some of it for a down payment on a house, and so you use that money for a down payment on a house. You and your spouse now have both of your names on the house, but that down payment came from that inheritance. That's a common example that I hear almost every week. Or even you needed the funds for daily living expenses and you started mixing those funds in and you move that money to a joint account. Well, when it comes to the time of divorce, you have to say, "Well, hey, is that money, is it separate property or is it marital property?" And it starts to get really complicated because it depends.   Now, if you got that money first, and let's just say you used it for life expenses, and you used that money and you put it in a joint account from that inheritance money into a joint account. Well, those funds may have become marital assets, inadvertently, because of that. Or if you used those funds for a down payment on a jointly owned house, does it immediately become marital property? Now it gets a little bit more complicated. This subject is very complicated and it depends on your individual circumstances, but I want to give you the highlights as to what you're going to be thinking about if this is an issue in your divorce.   Conversely, you could be on the other side of this situation too, where your spouse got an inheritance, and sometimes it's a pretty substantial amount, and you're trying to figure out, "Well, hey, we used some of that inheritance for these one, two and three things. Does he or she get credit for that money? Does that money come back? Is that joint property? What's the deal? What do we get to do with that?" So that is where this process becomes very important to understand from both sides of the spectrum.   So the first part, and the term that I'm going to introduce to start, is called tracing. So the first word is co-mingling, and that's the process of making a separate property, marital, broadly speaking. Now, tracing is a very important term, and that is figuring out where the money came from. Simple as that. So if you had, let's just say, a gift from a parent, and let's just say that gift came or that inheritance came eight years ago, and then five years ago you used that money to buy a house. And then now fast forward five years, you're facing a divorce situation. Well, you want to keep that inheritance separate, is my guess, and you don't want to split the funds that your parent gave you. So how do you figure out and prove, basically, that that inheritance is separate property? And conversely, if you're the one who's contesting this situation, you're going to have to make your spouse illustrate where all of that money came from and have the records for it.   So that's where tracing comes into play. Very simply, it's just figuring out where the money came from and going through that process of, "Hey, eight years ago, those funds were deposited into this account. And then five years ago, it was wired to this company for the down payment on the house." And you need to go through that process and have all the steps involved, and it's not an easy one oftentimes. So here's where one of the most important things you'll hear me always talk about is having good documentation. That's the problem and that's really the biggest challenge with co-mingling is having the documentation.   If you've been married for a long time, and I speak to people who've been married 20, 30, 40 years oftentimes, and you may not have clean records for where every dollar went. It's something that's very important to think about because state rules can vary on the subject in terms of what you should do in those situations. And one of the things you're going to really need to focus on is gathering documentation. Because sometimes in a state, the burden is, and really you need to talk to your attorney about this point because there are a lot of nuances on th
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