Whether your client’s case is litigated, mediated or negotiated collaboratively, the financial settlement is often the greatest determinant of the quality of life your client experiences, financially, for her/his remaining years.
Knowing the short- and long-term implications of various settlement possibilities before you present them to your client, and the implications of the entire settlement being considered before your client agrees and signs (or goes to court)
Can ensure you advise your clients appropriately
Will give your client a realistic picture of the future, and
May help the client be more satisfied with the results, reducing your potential liability exposure.
For litigation, you need documented evidence and reasonable, defensible positions. Sarah has been admitted as a financial expert in the Superior Court of Washington and Montana District Court, and her opinions have been relied upon by triers-of-fact in rulings, findings-of-fact and judgments.
Likewise, during facilitated negotiations, the summaries and details of Sarah’s reports and opinions can strengthen your client’s bargaining position.
Forensic analysis of historical Marital Lifestyle
Researching and documenting income available for support
Evaluation of complex financial assets, including implications for division
Clearly illustrating the short- and long-term effects of various settlement options on one or both parties
Tracing of assets and funds (community, separate, dissipation)
Preparing an accurate and defensible Financial Affidavit (Declaration/Disclosure Statement)
Educating client, as needed, and preparing realistic future budgets
Financial analysis of pre- and post-nuptial agreements
Lump-sum valuations (pensions, maintenance buyout)
Providing case-specific lists of documents and financial questions for discovery
Expert reports and testimony on any of the above
Sarah J. Hussey, CFP®, CDFA™, MAFF™
Attorneys are experts in the law, and the best family-law practitioners have an excellent grasp of complicated financial issues. However, few are also experienced long-range financial planners, and, no matter how knowledgeable, many busy attorneys cannot spare the time to thoroughly research the details of all financial assets, when such details could have a significant impact on the settlement they choose to seek.
Consulting a financial expert at the outset of your case who can address both the comprehensive, long-term financial impact of a settlement on the parties and the forensic details of financial assets, income and expenses may help you better craft the optimal outcome for your client. And, when needed, expert testimony in support of your case may strengthen your client’s position in negotiations and at trial.
It can also help your client plan realistically for the future, and, frequently, to understand and more readily accept any lifestyle changes necessary going forward.
“Sarah's analysis, charts, graphs and opinions regarding my client's financial position "before" and "after" her divorce were invaluable to me in securing a favorable resolution in a most difficult and complicated case. I highly recommend her as an expert before the other side has a chance to hire her.”
– Kent Kasting, Esq., AAML Fellow, Bozeman, MT
For litigated cases, Sarah can be retained as either a testifying or consulting expert. In most cases Sarah is retained directly by the law firm, particularly if an award for legal and professional fees may be pursued.
Attorneys find the most benefit by consulting Sarah at the outset of a case. After reviewing an outline of the case, she can help craft questions for discovery and requests for production specific to the matter, which may reduce the number of subsequent discovery requests. Also, by being retained at the outset, she may identify important financial issues that might otherwise be overlooked. Being retained after discovery is closed is not recommended, as it often limits the scope and value of her reports.
Attorneys find Sarah’s expertise invaluable in developing appropriate settlement options, in discussing options with the client and in “real time” as negotiations are underway, both in private conferences and during court-ordered mediation sessions.
The time involved and fees are comparable to other financial experts, such as business valuators and forensic tax accountants. Fees are charged on a per-hour basis. Requirements for retainers vary by the complexity of the case and scope of assignment, but in most cases the initial retainer is between $3,000 - $5,000. As you are well aware, the hours required can vary widely in litigated cases. Please call for more specific information.
Consulting Sarah when a case first comes to you can save all parties significant time and money. And, by engaging a financial expert at the outset, attorneys and mediators are able to spend more time on other important aspects of the case, such as parenting and non-financial legal issues.
After consulting with one or both parties, as well as the other engaged professionals, we create and provide a document list specific to the situation. Sarah begins working with one or both parties to understand the values that underpin their lifetime financial needs and wants. Working together, we strive to create a financial settlement that best meets both parties’ needs, within the confines of the family’s assets and realistic incomes.
Our goal, together, is to craft a financial arrangement that gives both parties (and their children) the resources necessary to continue their lives after divorce with security and dignity.
Fees are charged on a per-hour basis, and a retainer is required. Most collaborative and mediated cases involve between ten to twenty-five hours of expert time, including consultations with the clients.
“I highly recommend Sarah in cases that need a comprehensive financial analysis. She is a superb testifying expert, yet equally superb at explaining complicated finances to clients in terms they can understand. There are others in the Seattle area who purport to do what Sarah does, but few demonstrate her degree of detail or expertise.”
– Elizabeth Michelson, Esq., AAML Fellow, Everett, WA
Seattle and Everett (206) 963-1755
Bozeman (406) 587-5587
In true mediation (vs. court-ordered negotiations), as in Collaborative, the parties seek to come to as close to a “win-win” agreement as possible, and have an interest in achieving a “fair” outcome for both parties. Sarah’s involvement, particularly in showing the long-term implications of settlement options as they are discussed, can be invaluable in helping the parties reach an agreement they both can accept and adhere to.
As an independent advisor, Sarah can be retained by one party in mediation, or by both parties as a Financial Neutral in true mediated or Collaborative* cases. *Member, International Association of Collaborative Professionals and King County Collaborative Law.
Specialist in the Finances of Divorce since 2003