Divorce Covid Style: Three Bucket Approach

Divorce Covid Style: Maybe You Need a Three Bucket Approach

Tony Babarino, a RE/Max Premier Realty Agent, invited Certified Family Law Specialist, Sven Buncher from Buncher Family Law, and Kim Dannettell, with Praedium Trust Services to his Orange County Real Estate Podcast. This highly interactive presentation shared three critical and important facets that any couple considering or actively involved in a divorce proceeding during the pandemic should know about. 

The following is a brief summary of key points from each presenter. You can listen to the entire podcast here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p91e8Rqwc7Q&feature=emb_err_woyt 

The Legal Bucket

Sven Buncher, Managing Partner of Buncher Family Law, explained that the courts are open again – some virtually and some in-person. In many instances, this can be a cost savings for clients as the attorneys don’t have to wait for hours in the courthouse for their turn and at times, be told to return to wait on yet another day. 

If a reevaluation of spousal support is being asked for, the spouse requesting the change must file right away as the funds can only be adjusted by the court retroactive to the date that the request was filed with the court, and not to further back in time when the circumstances changed, such as the payor of support having his income decreased. Sven also cautioned that a spouse can’t simply just start paying less support without first filing a request with the court and/or getting a court order, as there may be financial penalties in some cases for doing so. 

During this Covid time, more couples are choosing mediation to settle their marital disputes. Mediation with an attorney or a private judge works best in situations when both spouses agree to primary issues surrounding support, custody, and property division. Each spouse gets their “day in court” having time to share and explain their side of the situation to the mediator. Mediation works best with couples who are at a point where they can make more rational decisions with less emotion. Sven points out that mediation can also be a big cost saver as there is so much less attorney time involved than in the case of litigation. www.buncherlaw.com 

Another alternative for spouses who can come to divorce agreement on fairly standard terms, is a Do-It-Yourself Divorce through on-line guided services such as Green Giraffe at substantial cost savings. www.greengiraffe.com 

The Trust & Estate Bucket

Kim Dannettell, of Praedium Trust, shared important ideas for divorcing or soon to be divorcing couples. Kim suggested that assets should be secured before marital dissolution starts. Estate plans should be reviewed and new wills or trusts should be formed for each spouse. Old trusts should be revoked and new HIPPA forms signed.

Couples who skip this important step can find themselves in a sticky situation if one of them dies pending a divorce and old trusts or title documents (e.g., deeds to property, pay on death bank accounts, etc.) transfer all community property to ex-spouses. With the pandemic continuing, thought should be given to what happens if one of the spouses gets ill and passes away. Kim suggests that every spouse review their plans and make corrections and adjustments as soon as possible – before an issue arises – when it might be too late. She helps divorcing spouses make sure the assets go where they are intended to go. kim@praediumtrustservices.com 

The Real Estate Bucket

Tony Babarino has been handling high-conflict real estate issues with divorcing spouses for a long time. Couples bring in Tony before they start to make decisions as to the sale of their home or other real property. After all, a home is a huge investment for most couples. He successfully mediates these conversations with divorcing couples to flesh out the facts and point out any potential conflicts or roadblocks, which may not be readily apparent. 

Some of the issues Tony settles before making a final decision to sell a home include getting buy-in from both spouses about the various parameters of the sale. Do both spouses want to sell the home? Who is responsible for vetting offers and negotiating the sale? How will the house be prepared before it goes on the market? 

Tony’s experienced and low-key style helps him defuse potentially contentious issues and steer conversations to successful and productive conclusions. tonybarbarino@gmail.com 

Conclusion

Divorce during Covid is best handled addressing all three buckets, the Divorce Process, Estate Planning, and the Sale of the Family Home. Use of highly qualified professionals for each separate bucket and help assure that all necessary matters are properly and timely addressed.

Posted in Court Preparation, COVID-19, Divorce finances, Mediation, Property Division.