A recent survey regarding attitudes regarding taxes and tax preparation revealed that a majority of households – 56% actually – relied upon another person or firm to prepare their taxes. This is not surprising given how few of us want to deal with the US Tax Code, a document now consisting of over 73,900 pages according to a national tax reporting service.

Such a volume of paper can pose challenges to anyone. Therefore, from online filing programs to volunteers at the local library, off we go at tax time to find someone to help.

Challenges faced by families are not much different. The issues are complex and very individualized, there are seldom easy answers and the financial implications can be significant. Moreover, there is no code to guide you.

Divorce, like the tax code, is not simple and errors can result in unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, the number of families that try to navigate the divorce process by themselves are often frustrated with the process, the outcome and the unintended results that are not often realized until much later. The “Do It Yourself” approach may seem the economical way to go, until it is not.

The Collaborative Process is built upon a team, led by the clients, and involving legal settlement experts (attorneys), emotional and child support professionals (coaches/child specialists) and financial neutrals (CDFA, CPA, etc.) to help you navigate to your solution.

The value of the expert has become common among professionals, with their inclusion in a variety of alternative dispute resolution methods.

The Financial Neutral is a crucial resource for the family. As implied in their title, they serve the client and the team as a “neutral” – they do not advocate for one party or the other, but advise both. The best way to sum up their expertise is a quote from a practitioner:

“…. [my] job to educate and inform the collaborative team about the many ways to maximize the available income for the family. This is our way of ensuring parents can maximize their financial means to care for their children.”

The 2017 tax law changed a number of things that affect families and divorce. Deductions for maintenance payments, changes in the standard deduction, limits on state and local taxes as deductible items, child tax credits and tax brackets and rates have all been affected.

It is not clear if these changes will alter how many people will seek professional tax advice when they file their returns on or before April 15. One thing that should be clear is the need for expertise when facing the emotional, legal and financial aspects of divorce.

The financial analysis and support available with the Financial Neutral is critical. The Collaborative team can make that happen.

There is probably no better time than this to send for the professional. It is a time when experts matter.