By Thomas F. Burrage and Sandra Morgan Little
Reviewed by Gary Silverman, CFP®
With almost half of all marriages ending in divorce, every
financial advisor will meet in their practices the problems
surrounding divorce. While appearing simple, the concepts of
dividing property and providing support are very complex in
application. On one hand, you have the technical aspects of
property valuation. Just how much is half of a future pension worth
today? Then there are the issues involved in accessing that asset.
But then we add the issue of how the courts have looked at various
aspects of valuation and division. Oh, and did I mention that what
is common in one state is different in another? Divorce and Domestic Relations
Litigation consolidates the essential concepts and
practices of dividing property and determining financial support
into one comprehensive volume.
The book was written specifically to train financial advisors in the financial impact, practical course, and underlying theories that affect the financial aspects of divorce litigation. The first two chapters deal with both the impact and role of the financial advisor in divorce litigation, and are a grand introduction to the issues involved. They also give immediate insight as to whether this area of specialization fits the advisor.
Even with its length (the book reads 240 pages), Divorce and Domestic Relations Litigation is essentially an introductory text—an invaluable one. It combines both an easy-to-understand conversational tone and packs in the information like a college text. Yet this is not pabulum. Get ready to read about court cases on the intricacies of the law.
After reading Divorce and Domestic Relations Litigation you may decide to look at specializing in this area. If so, you will have found the book a good primer. On the other hand, reading it may cause you to stay clear of these cases. That would be a good thing as well, as it is essential for you, as an advisor, to recognize what you do not have the capability of handling. Should you decide this is not your cup of tea, the book is still essential reading. It will be a good foundation for your conversations with the divorce specialist to which you refer your client.
Both authors are highly qualified to write this text, not just from their credentials, but from their experience. Tom Burrage is a CPA serving in his firm's Litigation and Valuation Services Department. He also sits on the Family Law Task Force for the American Institute of CPAs and has consulted and testified in hundreds of cases over the last 25 years. Sandra Morgan Little is an attorney certified in the specialization of family law in New Mexico. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a Diplomat of the American Academy of Family Trust Law. Sandra is also the past president of the ABA Family Law Section.
The bottom line is this: Either you read this as an introduction to specializing in divorce cases or you read it to understand the complexities with which you client will need to deal.
Gary W. Silverman, CFP®, owns Personal Money Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the host of the financial television show, Money$Talk; editor of the financial newsletter, Personal Money Planning; and a frequent contributor to the print and broadcast media. Gary also teaches university courses in finance and management.
John Wiley & Sons