Monthly Archives: March 2012

Private Investigator Bill Raises Some Concerns

Private investigator bill raises some concerns.

By Michael McFall

Standard-Examiner staff

Mon, 03/26/2012 – 6:22am

SALT LAKE CITY — Lt. Lee Perry of the Utah Highway Patrol has reservations about Senate Bill 210 that gives new powers to private investigators.

The bill passed the Legislature but has yet to be signed by Gov. Gary Herbert. SB 210 would allow private agencies such as law firms and real estate companies to hire private investigators to serve all civil processes, including vacate and eviction notices, bench warrants, summonses and subpoenas. These are responsibilities that are now done by constables or law enforcement officers.

“They’re not trained in the same way as officers,” said Perry, who is also a state representative from Box Elder County and voted against the bill.

Many private investigators are former officers who know how to handle those situations, but under current state law, anyone who wants to be an investigator doesn’t have to take police training, “and that’s the hang-up,” Perry said.

Perry wonders what happens when people who don’t understand the recipient’s basic constitutional rights act inappropriately. If a resident or the investigators end up having to call law enforcement to assist in the situation, he questions what the bill really accomplishes.

The bill faced stiff opposition in the Senate, but passed 16-12 after sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, added that the investigators cannot make arrests when serving a bench warrant.

Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, sponsored the bill in the House and made sure to include a provision that investigators cannot use any force or breach the peace in performing these duties.

“It is true that (private investigators) have not been through the same training that a police officer will go through or a constable,” Snow said. “But they are regulated by the state Department of Professional Licensing and must adhere to the rules and regulations of that agency.”

In the House, Perry added a requirement that the investigators have to identify themselves and state that they’re acting as process servers, carry visible credentials and provide their contact information.

He also changed the bill so that if a sheriff’s office receives a credible complaint about an investigator, the department can ban him or her from performing those duties in that county ever again.

“I tried to give as much protection as I possibly could,” Perry said.

The final version passed the House on the last night of the session by a 38-36 vote.

One local private investigator shares Perry’s concerns about the possible law.

Jeff Nelson, who has been a private investigator in North Salt Lake for almost 35 years, said the bill does not make much sense to him. He’s been involved in at least 2,000 criminal cases and worries for the investigator’s safety while serving warrants. Sometimes “you run into someone who is a bad guy,” he said.

It’s better to send someone into these situations who is more qualified, he said.

If the governor signs SB 210, Perry plans to work with Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, over the coming months on a new bill that would further clarify what the investigators can and cannot do.

Need For Space Test

16 questions, 10 min

Are you able to give your significant other the space he/she needs, or do you have an uncontrollable urge to spend every waking moment with him/her? While spending quality time together is essential for happy and healthy relationship, constant togetherness can lead to codependency or even drive a partner away. Find out whether you’re a space-giver or space-crowder by taking this romantic space profile test.

Read every statement carefully and indicate which option applies best to you. There may be some questions describing situations that you feel are not relevant. In such cases, select the answer you would most likely choose if you ever found yourself in similar circumstances. After finishing the test, you will receive a personalized interpretation of your score that includes a graph and information on the test topic and helpful tips.

 

Copper Theft Insurance Claims Soar

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: March 27th, 2012

A new insurance industry report confirms what electric cooperatives, phone companies, breweries and many individuals have been all too aware of: Metal theft is on the rise.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau tallied figures for 2009 through 2011. During those three years, 25,083 insurance claims were filed for stolen aluminum, brass, bronze or copper. A whopping 96 percent were for copper theft.

The number of claims jumped 81 percent from an earlier NICB report covering 2006 through 2008. NICB is a not-for-profit organization that works to detect and prevent insurance fraud.

“The thieves can endanger the safety of themselves and those in the surrounding community, and weaken the infrastructure vital to our everyday lives,” NICB wrote in its report.

“Unoccupied buildings have exploded due to gas lines being stolen, stretches of highway have been left dark after thieves stole wiring from utility poles, and tornado warning sirens have been rendered inoperable due to wiring being stolen.”

Ohio leads the nation with 2,398 metal theft claims. Texas is hot on its heels with 2,023. The top five is rounded out by Georgia (1,481), California (1,348) and Illinois (1,284).

On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska saw just three claims in three years, while Wyoming had four, and North Dakota and South Dakota had five each.

Among major metropolitan areas, Chicago had 963 metal theft claims to lead the nation, followed by New York (921), Atlanta (823), Dallas-Fort Worth (674) and Detroit (587).

NICB validated what electric co-ops and other utilities have long been saying: that the value of the stolen copper is often dwarfed by the damage tally.

“Frequently the damage caused by such thefts is several times the value of the metal stolen,” the report said, “leaving the victims with hefty repair costs which are often passed on to insurance companies.”

Classes Challenge Internet ‘Investigators’

By JOE HARRIS

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – In two class actions on the frontier of Internet law, people claim that Intelius and Digimedia dba Peoplefinder work as private investigators in Missouri without state certification.
Intelius, based in Bellevue, Wash., offers its services through its website intelious.com.
Named plaintiff Michael Brown claims Intelius says its investigations can get information about crimes threatened or committed against the United States; the identity, credibility, habits, business, integrity, credibility, trustworthiness, loyalty, movements, affiliations, and reputation of certain individuals; and information on a person’s address, phone number history, social media history, criminal record, family and financial history.
Brown says Intelius is working as a private investigator without a license.
In the second class action, filed by the same law firm, lead plaintiff Thuy Nguyen makes the same accusation against Digimedia.com dba Peoplefinder.com
“At no pertinent time has defendant ever held a license [to] engage in private investigator business in the State of Missouri, nor has it ever held a license to engage in business in the State of Missouri as a private investigator agency,” Brown says in his complaint in St. Louis County Court. “Moreover, defendant has never applied for any such licenses.
“At no pertinent time have any of defendant’s employees ever been licensed pursuant to RMSo § 324.1104 to engage in private investigator business in the state of Missouri.
“At all pertinent times, defendant’s failure to hold the license(s) … was information that a reasonable consumer would consider important in deciding whether to hire defendant for the purpose of having the defendant or its employees engage in private investigator business.”
The class consists of all Missourians who have bought private investigations from Feb. 1, 2010 to final judgment. The law requiring such a license was passed in 2007, but Brown’s attorney, Michael Kruse, said the state finally got the mechanisms to enforce the law on Feb. 1, 2010.
“We were concerned with the value customers are getting in light of the licensing statue,” Kruse told Courthouse News.
“They have a right to comply with the law. There is a reason why the state of Missouri felt it needed such controls and companies can’t be above the law through their business model using the Internet.”
The classes seek an injunction, rescission of contracts, restitution and actual and punitive damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation by omission, and violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
Kruse practices for the law firm Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson in St. Louis.
Kruse filed the nearly identical class action against Digimedia.com dba Peoplefinder.com.
Kruse said he does not expect his firm to file any more class actions against private investigation companies.
“We were looking at several different companies and those two were the most major violators,” Kruse said. 

Courthouse News Service

iPhone Video Timestamp App For Private Investigators

by Steven Santarpia
ICORP Investigations 

It’s finally here! An app for private investigators to take video on their IPhone with a timestamp. It’s called VideoTimeStamp made by Contraptionz. The cost is $29.99. You can record video at 640×480 or 960×640 resolution, with a time and/or date stamp burned in! IOS 5.0 required.I’ve been using the app for a month and I definitely give it my seal of approval. My private investigators at ICORP Investigations also seem to like the app. I think it works well for claims investigations. For instance, I followed a claimant into a Home Depot not too long ago. I  approached the claimant while I made like I was texting someone on my iPhone. The claimant had no idea I was filming him. That of course, is what its all about.

You can hold your iPhone vertically and horizontally  to take video, which is a great feature. When holding it vertically, you can make like you are texting someone and video the target. When holding it horizontally, you can hold the iPhone down by your side to video while walking. Another great feature the VideoTimeStamp app has is you can tap the iPhone screen twice to make the screen go dark. Thus, your iPhone looks like its inactive. For domestic investigations like a cheating spouse case, this app can also be helpful when trying to obtain hidden video.

Maybe the best aspect of this app is you’ll have your iPhone with you all the time. The investigator no longer has to carry another device to obtain hidden video. Plus, the quality of video and the reliability of the hidden cams most insurance investigators use to obtain hidden video make this app a very welcoming addition to our bag of tricks.

The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating

Does being in love lead men to cheat?
Published on March 21, 2012 by Eric Anderson, Ph.D. in Masculinity Today

Sexual taboos are falling in Western cultures. Largely due to the Internet, today’s youth take a much more sex-positive view to what comes naturally. They have shed the fear and misconception ofmasturbation. They enjoy a hook-up culture where sex is easier to come by. Taboos have withered from homophobic moralistic Victorian ideals of heterosexual, missionary ‘sex’ to the acceptance not only of homosexuality but for the viewing of gay male pornography by straight men.

Despite all of this social-sexual progress, however, our culture has yet to erode the sexual taboo of engaging in—or even admitting to desperately wanting—sex with someone other than one’s monogamous partner. Monogamy is so esteemed it remains virtually compulsory in our relationships.

Despite its cultural esteem, there are faults with the practice of monogamy today; problems covered by a culture unwilling to ask critical questions about it. Monogamy’s hegemonic dominance is maintained through multiple, robust cultural myths in the forms of both a carrot and a stick.

Young men entering into romantic/sexual relationships are misled into thinking that monogamy is capable of providing them with a lifetime of sexual fulfillment and that if they truly loved their partners they would not desire others. This, we are told, is because monogamy is healthy, proper,moral, and natural. Anyone deviating from or challenging this script is stigmatized.

We must hold monogamy, not only cheating, to a critical light. We must expose the myths supporting monogamy, especially for young men who have grown up with easier access to sex, a panoply of pornography, and a greater number of sexual partners before finding love.

Let us examine the stages of a monogamous relationship:

(1) Young men enter into romantic relationships believing in the myths of monogamy. Many men have come from families broken by cheating, and they don’t want to be ‘that guy.’ They believe that if they love their partners, they will be sexually satisfied with them in perpetuity.

(2) Despite this belief, sexual habituation sets in quickly. Attempts to spice-up one’s sex life normally occur about the time a couple enters into the emotional storming stage of a relationship: three months. But despite these attempts, the intensity and frequency of sex declines within a few months.

(3) The relentless urge to have sex with someone else grows stronger as the emotional strength of the relationship develops. Young men who fail to love their girlfriends or boyfriends aren’t compelled to stay with their partners. Instead, they are culturally free to leave their partners. But men don’t leave their partners because of waning sexual desires alone; they love their partners and do not wish to leave them. They simply want sex with someone else to fulfill their somatic desires while keeping their emotional relationships intact.

(4) Men begin to resent their partners. When every cell in their body is craving sex with someone else, monogamy begins to feel like sexual incarceration. Men want to escape, and, to some extent, their inability to do so is taken out on their partner, who is viewed as keeping them sexually incarcerated.

(5) Men must decide. Do they break up with their partners so they can have sex elsewhere? Tell their partners that they desire a sexually-open relationship? Discuss their sexual desires with their partners but not ask for an open relationship? Or do they choose to cheat, even if not fully admitting this choice to themselves?

(6) The decision is normally made to cheat, and this normally occurs (the first time) when drunk. Men don’t choose the first option because they are in love with their partners and don’t wish to lose their emotional relationship. They don’t choose to explain their desires to their partners because they fear that if they do, their partners will not only deny them the ability to have extra-dyadic sex, but they will either subject them to extra surveillance and scrutiny, or break up with them altogether.

Thus, the final option, cheating, becomes the only rational choice to have their emotional and sexual desires met. With the fuel of alcohol, cheating ‘just happens.’ But because most of the time men are not caught, and because they view the crime as having already been committed, they begin to cheat more often. This cheating option has the added value of permitting themselves to have extra sex, without giving their partners permission to do the same. Thus, cheating men don’t have to confront their own sexual jealousy.

After interviewing 120 young men and drawing on research from hundreds of other academics across the biological and social sciences, the central thesis to my research is that cheating is a rational response to the irrational expectation of monogamy. Cheating serves as a way for men to meet their desires, with as little disruption to their emotional lives as possible. This is why 78% of the men I interview report having cheated on their current partner in some physical way.

I don’t condone cheating, but I do condemn the expectation of monogamy for setting up this double jeopardy. I understand why men cheat and permitted them to tell their own stories without moral condemnation in my book.

This position is unpopular in a culture which so highly values fidelity. Thus, I rather feel like a boy pointing out the fact that the Emperor has no clothes. But I suggest that my thesis must resonate with most who read it at some level. This is because the evidence about monogamy suggests that while we value it, it is not working. Not only have 78% of those in my study cheated, but evidence is all around us that, as an institution, monogamy has failed. Previous research on married men and women in the United Kingdom, for example, shows that more than 70% of men and women have at one time cheated on their partner.

In light of my thesis, some choose a moralist stand, arguing that men should not act on their desires no matter how strong. Others seem to want men doomed to a life of loneliness, suggesting that they should never enter into relationships if that is their belief, or those are their sexual desires.

Both of these positions, however, are a return to matters as usual. They value a cultural script (monogamy for life) that is clearly not working. It is also these scripts that keep men lying about their desires and hiding their cheating. Few highlight the obvious answer to the dilemma of monogamy and cheating—sexually open relationships. Here, in an egalitarian manner, a couple reserves emotional fidelity, while structuring in rules for extra-dyadic, recreational sex.

Thus, the way out of the monogamy gap is for us to begin equally valuing sexually open relationships, alongside monogamous ones. Feeling victimized by one’s cheating is a socially constructed emotion that ultimately leads to the decrement of otherwise healthy relationships. Open sexual relationships can, oddly enough, provide increased protection from sexually transmitted diseases/infections (because when people cheat they rarely use protection); and open relationships can wither jealousy scripts that lead to emotional distress in a relationship.

Finally, when there is no stigma to having an open sexual relationship, men and women will begin to be more honest about what they want sexually, and how they desire to achieve it. Only once sexually open relationships become a viable cultural choice—free of stigma or hierarchy—will men and women begin to talk honestly about what form of relationship would serve them best. Only then will they be permitted to change the rules of sex with others in their relationship, as they see fit.

Psychology Today

Allstate Insurance Company Files $2 Million Insurance Fraud Case

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Allstate Insurance Company has filed its first insurance fraud lawsuit of 2012, seeking to recover $2 million dollars against 27 New York area defendants. The Complaint names multiple physicians, chiropractors, medical professional corporations, and clinic lay-owners allegedly used to control the medical professional corporations, including 18 individual defendants currently under federal indictment.

The complaint alleges that New York medical professional corporations known as St. John Medical Care, P.C., Lenox Wellcare Medical, P.C., CB Chiropractic, LLC, New Age Orthopedic Rehabilitation, P.C., First Aid Medical Care, P.C., Rosedale Medical, P.C., TDL Medical, P.C., LDT Medical, P.C., and West End Chiropractic, P.C., were fraudulently incorporated through a scheme using the names of licensed medical physicians and chiropractors, and that lay-owners, none of whom were physicians, secretly owned and controlled the professional corporations.

The lawsuit was filed following an investigation by Allstate’s Special Investigative Unit and seeks reimbursement for no-fault benefits Allstate paid on behalf of its customers during timeframes specified in the lawsuit. The lawsuit is the latest in a string of actions taken by the insurer to protect consumers from these and similar activities. Since 2003, Allstate has filed 37 fraud lawsuits in New York State seeking more than $ 201 million in damages.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the state of New York is in an insurance fraud crisis and no-fault fraud is costing New Yorkers millions of dollars year-after-year in higher premiums. “In essence, honest, hardworking New Yorkers are paying a ‘fraud tax,’” said Krista Conte, spokesperson for Allstate’s New York office. “We need lawmakers to enact meaningful insurance reform that puts the citizens of New York first.”

Allstate is joined by other insurers and many New York State leaders in its pursuit for comprehensive reform of the no-fault system. “The no-fault system is being exploited and responsible citizens are the victims,” Conte said. “Without the support of lawmakers, incidents of fraud will continue to increase. We need to work together this legislative session to fix the broken no-fault system.”

For more information on the dangers of insurance fraud, and how you can help fight it, please visit Fraud Costs NY at http://www.i-issues.com/new-york

The Allstate Corporation ALL +0.06% is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer known for its “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®” slogan. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary as an insurer, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help nearly 16 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via http://www.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®.

SOURCE Allstate Insurance Company

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

 

How Are Celebrity Cellphones Hacked?

By Michael Gregg

Celebrities are a perfect target for hackers — they’re highly visible, spend lots of time on their smartphones and they know next to nothing about security. It’s no wonder they’re often victimized by hackers — from lone hackerazzis like the alleged Christopher Chaney to hacker groups like the Anonymous offshoot ‘Hollywood Leaks.’

But how do these hackers actually hack a cell phone?

Many people seem to think it requires a great deal of computer skill to hack a phone; that you have to be some type of hacker mastermind. But the reality is, it’s not that hard.

Here are a few ways:

# 1 – Physical Access to the Phone – Obviously, if a person can get physical access to a cell phone, even for a few seconds, it’s game over. The person can clone it, place a remote spying tool on the phone or download the pictures and information directly to their own account.

TIPS – Make sure your phone has a strong password lock to prevent unauthorized access. Sign up for a mobile phone recovery service — like Where’s My Droid, Find My iPhone, McAfee’s WaveSecure, etc. — that offers GPS tracking, remote freeze and remote wiping in case the phone is ever lost or stolen.

#2 – Hacking Email, Twitter and Apps – Most celebrities are hacked through email, Twitter and other accounts that they use on their phones. This is what happened to Scarlett Johanson, Kreayshawn, Mila Kunis and Christina Aguillera, among others — and it may also be the reason for the more recent hacks on Heather Morris and Christina Hendricks.

Hackers get in by guessing a weak password or bypassing the password altogether by answering a series of cognitive security questions such as mother’s maiden name or what high school they attended. This technique is what is alleged to have been used by Chris Chaney and Hollywood Leaks.

To beat a password, hackers can use special password cracking programs that attempt to “dictionary attack” or “brute force” the account, or they can simply do their homework on the celebrity and use that to guess the passphrase or security questions. Once the hacker gets in to one account, especially email, he can use it to get into other accounts (for example, request the Twitter password reminder be sent to Gmail or other web-based email account).

TIPS – Use a unique password for each online account. Make sure it’s at least 10 characters long and doesn’t make up a real word — use letters, numbers and symbols. Give fake answers to the security questions to make it hard for others to guess. To be extra safe, consider using “two-factor authentication” and PGP encryption with the email account as well.

#3 – Social Engineer the Phone Company – In 2005, hackers stole nude pictures of Paris Hilton by getting access to her T-Mobile Sidekick II, a precursor to today’s smartphones. How did they do it? Theyimpersonated a T-Mobile support tech over the phone and tricked T-Mobile employees into giving them access to the carrier’s intranet site that contained a list of user accounts, which allowed them to reset the password to her account and steal photos and contacts. Today, there’s still a risk hackers could reset accounts or permissions by conning the phone company, but it’s more likely they’ll simply target a person’s accounts directly online.

TIPS – Check your online phone accounts periodically to make sure there haven’t been any unauthorized changes.

#4 – Wi-Fi Spies – Movie stars do a lot of traveling, and while they’re roaming about they’re often connecting their phones to open Wi-Fi networks — whether it’s at the airport, hotel or Starbucks. This puts them at greater risk of being hacked. Using public Wi-Fi puts all of your online accounts, Internet searches, emails and usernames/passwords out in the open where they can be read, copied and hacked by any person with moderate computer skills. In fact, there are special tools available online that do this.

TIPS – Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Stick with 3G or 4G service, as it’s harder to hack. If you must use a public wireless network, only use websites or apps from your phone that offer encryption (‘https’ in the address bar) and don’t save your passwords in a cache. Even better, setup a virtual private network (VPN) that will encrypt your online activity no matter where you are.

#5 – Spyware – Stars who spend a lot of time using open Wi-Fi and chatting with friends or followers on social networks and clicking on shared links are also at risk of spyware. Spyware is malicious software that can infect your phone in order to record the things you type — like usernames and passwords — and it can also be used to steal items from your phone, like photos, contacts and banking data. “FakeToken” is one example of spyware that is currently being found on some Android phones. There’s a good chance some celebrity phones have been infected by spyware.

TIPS – Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Don’t click on suspicious links, whether they’re in email, text messages or tweets.

The bottom line is that most celebrities fall victim to hacks because they use weak passwords and share too much information — and images — through easily hacked accounts. A few basic precautions would fix the problem for many of them; hopefully they’ll learn their lesson.

Huffington Post

Dating During Divorce? Not So Fast…

Bari Zell Weinberger, Esq.

Let’s start with the bad news: You’re on the road to divorce. But the good news is that romance, love and, yes, even marriage doesn’t need to end with divorce. In fact, a survey of 2,000 newly divorced people found that nearly 50 percent of divorced men were eager to get remarried, and 20 percent of divorced women were hoping to repeat their trip down the aisle. That’s inspiring news for everyone hoping to be hit by Cupid’s arrow once again.

But is dating during your divorce a good idea?

While it may indeed be true that “all’s fair in love,” a little common sense doesn’t hurt either. And while I’d never want to throw cold water on a budding romance, I have some words of wisdom that I’d like to share.

I have an immense amount of experience helping individuals and couples make it through the divorce process. And I have even helped many through the more peaceful and amicable process of divorce mediation, which can save everyone a great deal of time, stress and money. In light of these experiences, here’s my compassionate and informed advice if you’re thinking about jumping back into the dating scene, and perhaps even if you hear wedding bells ringing in your near future:

• If you’ve started your divorce process, honestly evaluate how your separation or divorce is going. Is it contested or uncontested? Is it demanding a lot of your time and resources? Is it emotionally overwhelming? You want to lay the groundwork for a new, strong relationship while you’re in a “good place” emotionally, psychologically and perhaps even financially, too. You also want to be able to devote your time and attention to your divorce, because the decisions you make during this time will affect you for years to come. Further, consider how your spouse may react when he or she finds out you’re dating. Is that going to add fuel to a highly contested divorce? More than likely, the answer is “yes.”

• If you haven’t started your divorce process, then it’s important that you know what the road ahead looks like — so you can prepare yourself and focus on the outcome you want. You also need to be aware that the process can be time consuming and, at times, exhaustive and difficult. After all, even the most amicable divorce is still a divorce, and it’s human nature to feel angry, sad and disappointed — and sometimes, all three at the same time.

• Be aware that there is a possibility that your dating behavior during divorce could affect custody and parenting issues. Your children haven’t achieved finality and closure of the divorce, and putting a new person in their life right now isn’t recommended by child psychologists.

Also, custody and parenting may be negatively impacted if your new boyfriend or girlfriend has a questionable past. This can further complicate the divorce process and significantly increase your legal fees if the focus becomes this new person, instead of you and your own divorce.

I also suggest that you be careful about having your boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night when you have overnights with the children. Innocently, the kids may comment to the other parent about how your boyfriend or girlfriend “tucked them into bed” or “gave them breakfast.” This could lead to an emotional response by your spouse and prevent settlement discussions from focusing on the real issues. Generally, if you use discretion and common sense and make an effort not to expose your children to your new boyfriend or girlfriend, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Happily ever after the second time ’round? Maybe — or maybe not

It’s interesting to note that second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages. While the reason for this higher divorce rate is unknown, it could be that some of these second marriages got off to a rocky start, because the ex-spouses didn’t deal with the emotional impact of their divorce, and aren’t really ready for another relationship — at least, not yet.

My best advice? When it comes to dating during or soon after divorce, rely on both the wisdom of your heart and the intelligence of your head — and not one instead of the other.

Huffington Post

The Three Key Players Every Woman Needs on Her Divorce Team

Divorce Financial Strategist(TM)

 

Deciding to proceed ahead with a divorce isn’t easy, and whether you reached that conclusion by yourself, were blindsided by a pronouncement from your husband, or something in between, you’re probably still a little numb and left wondering, “What do I do now?”

That question can be answered on many different levels, of course. But, as a Divorce Financial Strategist™ who exclusively works with divorcing women throughout the country, my advice is to direct your focus immediately on creating a solid strategy, one that will help you emerge from divorce in the best possible shape, both emotionally and financially.

How do you make that kind of game plan? Easy. I believe there is one thing you need to do that can make all the difference between a successful divorce settlement and one that is considerably less favorable:

Build a winning divorce team.

Yes, you need a “team.” In the past, divorce was a simpler process involving only the divorcing couple and their lawyers. But these days, you’ll also need the support of other professionals, particularly those who can help secure your financial interests both in the short- and long-term. To protect your financial stability and personal well-being, build a solid divorce team that includes these three essential players:

1. A Matrimonial/Family Law Attorney

Look for an attorney who exclusively handles divorce cases or devotes at least 75 percent of his/her practice to divorce. Ideally, your lawyer will be a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an organization requiring the fulfillment of several stringent professional conditions.

When interviewing potential candidates, please don’t hesitate to get a little nosy. Certainly, you’ll want to discuss the individual complexities of your case, but be sure to explore the lawyer’s own qualifications and fees as well. Honesty and openness are the best strategies here because there’s no need for any “surprises” once you’ve started working together. Find out answers to questions like these:

• How many cases has he/she has recently handled, how many have been settled and how many have gone to trial? What were the outcomes of these cases?
• Does he/she typically represent the husband or wife? What percentage of each?
• Will he/she personally handle all aspects of your case, or will your case be passed to a more junior attorney and/or paralegal (and at whose rate will you be charged)?

In addition, be certain you feel personally at-ease with whomever you choose. By its very nature, divorce is a delicate and emotional experience, and you need your attorney to be a trusted, supportive and forward-thinking resource throughout the entire process. “Bedside manner” is extremely important. I’ve had a number of clients who had to fire their otherwise highly qualified divorce attorney because the attorney did not respect women!

2. A Divorce Financial Planner

A divorce financial planner is not the same as a financial advisor, financial planner, stockbroker, CPA or accountant. A divorce financial planner is equipped with all the necessary specialized tools for the divorce process, including divorce financial planning, asset protection strategies and the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) designation.

As the financial expert on your team, your divorce financial planner should work hand-in-hand with your divorce attorney and take care of the critical financial tasks that are beyond the capacity of the attorney’s expertise. These tasks can range from preparing the financial affidavits to projecting the financial and tax implications of each divorce settlement option.

In addition, your divorce financial planner will also be responsible for creating the comprehensive financial analyses and projections that you and your divorce attorney will need to fully understand the short- and long-term financial and tax implications of each proposed divorce settlement offer. Your attorney will then use those conclusions to substantiate and justify his/her positions when negotiating with your husband’s attorney.

In certain cases, other additional specialists are needed as well, so be sure your divorce financial planner has the necessary contacts to bring in experts such as:

A forensic accountant. A forensic accountant helps explore concerns about hidden income/assets/liabilities and/or the possible dissipation of marital assets. He/she may also be very useful when one or both spouses own a business or professional practice where it is rather easy to hide income/assets and/or delay revenues and increase expenses.
A valuation expert. A valuation expert can determine the worth of a business or professional practice by using the “real” numbers determined by a forensic accountant. A valuation expert can also establish the value of an advanced degree or training, stock options and/or restricted stock, etc.
A real estate appraiser. A real estate appraiser determines the value of the marital home and other real estate including vacation homes, commercial real estate and land, which are often the largest assets needing to be divided.

3. A Therapist/Counselor

Many people describe divorce as an emotional roller coaster, and at times, it can be difficult to navigate the ups and downs of the process. Because of this, your team should also include a qualified therapist who can help you cope with your feelings as the divorce process unfolds.

Even though this is a stressful time, please try to remember: It’s imperative to maintain your focus andThink Financially, Not Emotionally®. Treating the divorce as a business negotiation — which, in all honesty, is exactly what it is — will help you reach a divorce settlement agreement that financially protects you now and well into the future.

Granted, nothing about divorce is easy, but you don’t — and shouldn’t — have to go it alone. Build a top-notch divorce team with three key players — a matrimonial/family law attorney, a divorce financial planner and a therapist/counselor — and you’ll have the professional expertise and support you need to emerge from your divorce in the best shape possible, with your finances intact and your financial future secure.
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Jeffrey A. Landers, CDFA™ is a Divorce Financial Strategist™ and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, a divorce financial strategy firm that exclusively works with women across the nation, who are going through, or might be going through, a financially complicated divorce.

He also advises happily married women who have seen their friends blindsided by a divorce initiated by their husbands and wonder (wisely) how financially vulnerable they’d be in that situation. Jeff developed the nation’s first Just in Case(TM): Secure Your Financial Future, a one-hour program, which quickly shows married women how to be prepared in the event of a future divorce with immediate, practical steps. He can be reached at Landers@BedrockDivorce.com.

All articles/blog posts are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, retain a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney.

Follow Jeffrey A. Landers on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Bedrock_Divorce


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