“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
                                                                               – Albert Einstein

Marital and Family Law is a unique sub-species of the law.  Whereas in criminal law it is a sign of professional advancement for lawyers to try cases, in family law, a trial is to be avoided if at all possible. Why is this?

An unusual aspect of a divorce case, especially one involving any complexity, is the sheer expense of the experience for the client.  One of the first matters that should be discussed between lawyer and client is the potential for a trial, and its related costs.  Appellate decisions have been critical of lawyers who allow the costs of litigation to get out of control.

For this reason, a joint expert should always be considered by lawyers when facing a complex issue.  For example, in a case involving the valuation of a business, or the value of stock options, the parties should consider a joint accountant.  Accountants with great professional reputations are available to act in this capacity.  The really good ones set a dignified tone and influence the process as not just financial experts, but as peacemakers as well.

Collaborative law is a concept that should be considered.  In this arena, the parties and their attorneys sign a contract at the inception of the case to use joint experts in the fields that are necessary.  Typically, these areas of expertise are accounting and mental health.

There are many horror stories of people going through terrible divorce experiences.  The hiring of a joint accountant or, in the appropriate case, a joint mental health professional, can reduce the financial and emotional cost of divorce and other family law litigation.

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney