Carol Ann's Newsletter

August 2015


Table of Contents


1. Divorce & Real Estate Part II

2. Money Matters in Divorce

3. From the desk of Carol Ann


4. Humor


5. Thought for the Day



1. Divorce & Real Estate Part II

by Gregg A. Greenstein, Esq.

Part I of this article identified some of the issues brokers encounter when listing property which is, or which might become, the subject of a divorce. This article continues to identify issues and discusses some of the general solutions.


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2. Money Matters in Divorce

Divorce isn't something that happens to "other people" anymore. In fact, there are about 1.4 million divorces every year in the United States.


Given the fact that divorce can and does happen, the solution is often not to prevent divorce but to help the process and the settlement be as equitable and as painless as possible.


The Wife's Point of View


The higher the income of the family, the wider the financial gap between divorced partners. The reason? Most couples still invest in the husband's career while the wife's job takes second place.


The courts often ignore this crucial issue when dividing marital property. Most lawyers and judges try to provide equitable divorce settlements for both parties. However, without a comprehensive financial analysis, many wives end up in dire financial straits despite legislation designed to provide fair divorce settlements. A number of factors can contribute to an imbalance in a divorce settlement; however, one fundamental fact prevails: a traditional married couple's lifestyle is usually based on the husband's income.


The Husband's Point of View

Men have several very real concerns. The number one concern for fathers with young children is how the divorce will affect their relationship with their children.

Even though we hear about fathers who abandon their children after divorce, this is not the prevailing attitude. During divorce, men fight for the right to participate in the lives of their children. Only if denied that right do they sometimes walk away in frustration and discontinue child support payments. Just because a man and woman no longer get along with each other does not mean that a father loves his children less. 


After the issue of children, a man's second concern is the prospect of paying life-time alimony to his ex-wife. Men want an end to the payments. They believe they cannot get on with their own lives as long as they have to pay alimony to an Ex. They really don't understand why they should have an obligation to support this person indefinitely.


Having to pay out large sums in the first few years after a divorce for things like child support, alimony, attorney's fees (both his and hers), as well as property settlement, means that a man's discretionary income may suffer greatly. He frequently feels that he has been "taken to the cleaners" and that he is doomed to pay for the divorce forever. In some cases, he may be right. But statistics show that in most cases, the financial effects of divorce are relatively short-lived. Men can take solace in the fact that their earning potential is almost always higher than the ex-wife's and they will eventually be financially better off than she will be.


A third critical concern to men is sharing their pensions. A man feels he earned the pension and he should not have to share it with anyone. It's interesting that, in many cases, the man will agree to a 50/50 property split and give the wife other assets in exchange for keeping his pension-- "just don't touch my pension!" It becomes an extremely emotional issue that can steer a man in the wrong direction!


Is An Equitable Divorce Settlement Possible?

Can something be done to lessen the negative impact of divorce? Are equitable settlements really possible? Yes.


However, few judges and attorneys are financial experts. Financial analysis of the outcome of possible settlements is complex and requires substantial experience. When legal expertise is not matched with sophisticated financial projections, an apparently equal division of property can leave the lower- or non-earning spouse destitute within a few years.


Contrary to popular belief, arranging a settlement that benefits the lower-earning spouse does not necessarily harm the higher-earning spouse. In addition, the standard of living may not be dramatically affected for either spouse.


Although it is impossible to predict the future, sophisticated software can be used to forecast the eventual financial outcome of specific divorce settlements. The program can be used to test different scenarios, such as higher or longer-lasting maintenance, disproportionate property division, and reduced standards of living.


With available software, professionals who are familiar with putting together equitable financial settlements can help couples avoid the court battle and a more humane result can be accomplished.


From the desk of Carol Ann


In the past, several state Bar Associations have threatened financial divorce specialists due to their perception that the divorce professional was practicing law. This is very serious. Let me give you my list of DON'Ts.


1. DON'T state that you can tell your client what an equitable settlement is. (Only an attorney or judge can do that.) You can show them the financial result of different settlement options.

2. DON'T tell your client what they should ask for in maintenance. You can show them the financial result of different amounts of maintenance.

3. DON'T offer to help them settle their case. You can say that your work often leads to settlement. An attorney works out the legal settlement.

4. DON'T talk to your client's spouse's attorney without first clearing it with you client's attorney. You could unknowingly upset the entire process.

5. DON'T ever offer yourself as a substitute for an attorney. Always recommend that your client consult with an attorney to ascertain their legal rights.

6. DON'T give any advice or information over the phone. You haven't yet met with the client. You don't have all the information. You can't give advice in a vacuum. Don't even ask them to give you the information over the phone. There are too many factors that are impossible to know without seeing all the underlying documentation. Instead, set the appointment. Keep your phone calls to less than 3-5 minutes. The only purpose for the phone call is to set the appointment.

7. DON'T say anything that could be construed as giving legal advice. Stay away from interpreting what they should do. That is what is considered to be practicing law.


4. Humor


Actual call center conversations!


Samsung Electronics

Caller: Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?

Operator: I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand who you are talking about.

Caller: On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC wall socket and telephone Jack before cleaning. Now, can you give the number for Jack?



Tech Support: I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.

Customer: OK

Tech Support: Did you get a pop-up menu?

Customer: No

Tech Support: OK. Right-click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?

Customer: No.

Tech Support: OK sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?

Customer: Sure. You told to write 'click' and I wrote 'click.'



Tech Support: Ok. At the bottom left and side of your screen, can you see the 'OK' button displayed?

Customer: Wow! How can you see my screen for there?


5. Thought for the Day


We can no more afford to spend major time on minor things than we can to spend minor time on major things..

-Jim Rohn





Carol Ann Wilson
Carol Ann Wilson LLC