2 weeks ago I was informed that my business is a 2015 BBB Ethics Award finalist! Needless to say, I was flattered, humbled, and extremely excited to be named to such a prestigious group. It really got me to thinking, what is the role of ethics in divorce? And how does it show up?
When I think about ethics, interesting images come to mind; the snake oil salesman of the 1920s, Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and the typical caricature of the Lawyer who couldn’t care less about his clients and instead is only interested in the fees that will line his own pockets.
So when I think about my business and how ethics show up, I think about the many times I’ve held a crying woman in my arms, reassuring her that everything will be ok. I think about the recommendations I have made to couples telling them the very best thing for them to do is sell their house, despite their emotional attachment and desire to stay. As a financial advisor who digs into every detail of their finances, I am often the only person who realizes that keeping the house would lead to financial devastation. While this is difficult news to deliver, my only concern is for the ultimate stability and welfare of both parties in the divorce, regardless of who my client is.
Perhaps that’s the real difference. I don’t care who my client is! My goal is to help couples become the best-divorced family they can be because they’re still a family. One thing that continuously baffles me is why in the United States we treat divorce like a crime. I’ve seen couple after couple embark on the litigation process only to end up feeling punished, angry, financially devastated, and anything but a winner. After having gone through divorce myself, I have come to the conclusion that we’ve got it all wrong. At some point, we decided that divorce was a legal dispute only to be handled in a courtroom. What a major miscalculation. We neglected to understand that this is not primarily a business dispute, but it’s a family situation. Notice I didn’t even say dispute.
My experience has been that differences in opinion around the division of assets only become disputes when fueled by the misguided advising of combative attorneys or family and friends. Now to be honest, this is not always the case. There are very ethical attorneys out there, but unfortunately I found them to be the minority. But the reality is the legal system is not created for family situations. It’s created for crime. And almost without exception, every couple I have known who has gone through the litigation process for their divorce has ended up feeling like a criminal. Of course they do. That’s what the system is for! So along comes little old me, ready to change the world. My mission statement really says it all. “We envision a world where the divorce process is not adversarial, financially confusing, or unreasonably costly”.
So now my goal is nothing too adventurous, just to revolutionize divorce in the United States. Join me and let’s help families who’ve decided the best situation is two households not one, to make that situation work with love, understanding and a system that supports them. The beauty of being human is that we can change. We can decide that if something doesn’t work, then do it differently and do it better. Don’t you think it’s time?
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