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West Des Moines attorney Kimberly Stamatelos offers a non-combative approach to the process of divorce.

Divorce With Decorum: A Way to Minimize Conflict

It’s still pretty much a 50-50 proposition whether a marriage will last for more than 20 years. And all too often divorces turn ugly over matters tied to behavior, children and money.

There still will be divorces. But the split might come a little more amicably if you follow a process called collaborative divorce. You don’t spar in a courtroom before a judge—an expensive, time-consuming and emotional experience. Instead, the spouses sit down at the same table (with lawyers present) and work through their grievances to come up with solutions that will be fair to both sides.

Practitioners of the collaborative divorce are actually trained in how to work through the process, and a lead educator and proponent of them is West Des Moines attorney Kimberly Stamatelos. She and law partner Ashley Tollakson say they are “committed to creating the more peaceful, respectful, cost-effective solution to family conflict.”

A collaborative divorce strives to avoid these conflicts by first getting both sides to agree to stay out of court: You’ll have to find a new lawyer should you decide to litigate. This non-court move will bring you to a bargaining table, where you’ll define what you want to accomplish.

“What are your goals?” Stamatelos asks clients to decide. The answer might be “I want to keep my house. I want to keep my business,” she said.

Stamatelos notes that she was trained as a lawyer, not a financial expert. So she is a fan of “off-lining” clients, putting them in touch with specialists such as accountants and financial planners who will develop plans to split up assets. Child custody questions similarly get referred to outside experts. She might even call upon a divorce coach, who, said one coach, can boost your clarity, confidence and courage. The goal of these advisers is to work with the attorney to develop a comprehensive plan to make the divorce work.

In a traditional divorce, someone wins and someone loses, Stamatelos said. They obviously can damage family relationships. A collaborative divorce can treat everyone respectfully. And they can save money when parties cooperate, even when these “off-liners” get involved.

Done right, a collaborative divorce can bring kindness, compassion and dignity to a process that is all too often lacking in these descriptors. This is not to say that there will not be friction, or that splitting spouses will walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand. But Stamatelos said it will help people tap into their higher self, during what is likely a pretty low time.

For more information, contact the Central Iowa Academy Of Collaborative Professionals (CIACP):

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Legacy Bridge

Reverse Mortgage Not Worst Idea, But Think Hard

Now that the government has tightened rules on reverse home loan mortgages that it insures, could this be the time to consider one? Umm, maybe. But only carefully.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said it has lost a lot of money on these loans, which allow seniors to tap equity in their homes. Borrowers can get cash through a line of credit, a lump sum payout or a regular payment stream. Money you receive must be repaid when you die or vacate the home for a specified period. But since this is a non-recourse loan, if the value of the loan exceeds that of the home, the homeowner or estate can just walk away from it.

As of Oct. 2, the upfront insurance premium on these loans was bumped to 2 percent of the loan amount (subsequent annual premiums fell to 0.5 percent). Also, the payout amount was cut. The AARP Public Policy Institute figured that a 62-year-old borrower getting a reverse mortgage with a 5 percent interest rate will now be able to draw 11 percent less money than under old rules.

So while such a loan may not be a measure of last resort to fund the jubilee years, it still remains far from the top of the list.

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Whitfield & Eddy Law
801 Chophouse

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