It is possible to calculate a divorce settlement by hand, but why bother? Software designed for family lawyers makes the process faster, easier, and more accurate.
By Dr. Rick Kabra, Technology Specialist
Valuing a couple’s life and dividing it between them is a monumental task. Trying to track all the assets is hard enough, but it’s even worse when both spouses declare that each coffee mug and DVD has “great sentimental value”. However, modern attorneys have the benefit of programs and software that helps propose equitable distributions for divorcing clients. Using tools like Divorce Financials Software can help take some of the emotion out of the transaction.
Tallying The Assets (And Liabilities!)
The first step in calculating a divorce settlement is documenting what needs to be divided. Couples are often surprised by how hard this process is. Most of us don’t have detailed lists of our financial pluses and minuses, and trying to build a list from scratch can be a chore. If you’re considering using divorce legal software, it’s important that it be flexible enough to allow you to account for all assets, from houses to life insurance policies and liabilities, from credit cards to car loans.
Family law attorneys would be well advised to give their clients some kind of template that will help them create a complete list of assets. Without structured guidance and an understanding of the consequences, it’s easy for a client to overlook items like treasured collectables or a personal loan to a friend. You should emphasize the importance of being thorough; a mistake now could delay the settlement for months.
Valuing The Assets
Making a list of items is one thing; giving them value is another. Liquid assets are easy: look at the balance on a specified date and enter it into an equitable distribution program like Divorce Financials Software. Tangibles are trickier. A house can be evaluated by a real estate agent. A car can be priced through Kelley Blue Book. Defined benefit plans can be challenging to value, but some family law software includes a pension calculator to simplify the process.
Each item must be given not only a value but also an ownership. Is this a joint asset/liability or does it belong to one spouse or the other? Is it a pre-marital item or one acquired during the marriage? These decisions are often not easy. Is the wife’s student loan her debt or a joint debt? Is the husband’s beloved classic car his or theirs…or even 80% his and 20% hers?
Dividing It Up
Finally, the items must be parceled out to each party. As family law attorneys know, equitable does not mean equal. It may not be a simple 50/50 split depending on a number of factors. Any divorce legal software you choose to utilize must be flexible enough to be able to sort items into different piles so a fair split can be agreed upon.
Balancing the settlement is ultimately done with liquid assets. It’s not practical to split the house in half, but it probably is practical to split the jointly owned mutual fund. These liquid assets are what allow attorneys to come to settlements that total to the penny, reducing the chance of countersuits later.
Using a program such as Divorce Financials family lawyer software helps streamline the settlement process. It creates an objective settlement analysis that is more likely to be accepted by the spouse and the courts than a hand waving “this is mine and that is yours” analysis would be. Make an effort to keep divorce settlements fair for your clients by using the right tools for the job.
The CEO of Easy Soft, Inc., Dr. Rick Kabra has years of experience in the legal software industry, catering to the specialized technology needs of small to mid-sized law firms. A leading legal software provider since 1986, Easy Soft offers specialized software (available as desktop and cloud versions) for real estate, family law and divorce settlements. Over 10,000 users nationwide use Easy Soft products to increase office productivity. www.easysoft-usa.com