Friday, December 11, 2009

Financial Advice for Mrs. Tiger Woods

Posted by Ahmed Al-Salem

Everyone has their own opinion on the Tiger Woods scandal. There are so many differing reports and theories about the incident and one can get lost in all the details. All we know for sure is that Tiger did something bad and his wife is upset. What should she do? Below is advice from two experts on money and divorce.

• Don't give in to anger or rush your decision: "My first recommendation would be: Take your time, go slow, don't do anything precipitously," says A.J. Barranco (a partner at Barranco & Kircher in Miami, is an experienced Florida matrimonial lawyer and represented Hulk Hogan's wife in their recent divorce) "Try to save your marriage if you can, and if you can't, explore your options." Mark Hill agrees. "Don't listen to your girlfriends and go out and get the most aggressive lawyer in your jurisdiction," he says. He's seen it too many times. Most people are hurt, angry or scared, he says. "They hire an aggressive attorney because they feel that will protect their rights more. But that tends to push their spouse to hire an even more aggressive attorney."

• Get this out of the public eye as fast as you can, and keep it there: "You want to prevent this from becoming any more public than it's become already," says Mr. Barranco. This is turning into a public-relations fiasco, and that's bad news for everyone involved. And by damaging Tiger Woods's reputation, it may be damaging all of their financial interests. Your willingness to take this private and play ball is probably your strongest financial card—and can give you a lot of leverage. Tiger Woods does not want to suffer any more damage in public.

• Even if you do decide to divorce your husband, "choose how you are going to divorce first," says Mark Hill (Certified Financial Divorce Analysts with more than 20 years' experience advising high-net-worth individuals). "Realize that you have that decision to make first." That means looking at nonconfrontational options, such as mediation, before you even think about going to war. One nonconfrontational option: so-called "collaborative divorce," in which the two parties hire lawyers, personal counselors and a neutral financial expert such as a CPA to help them sort through all the issues—but sign an agreement at the outset not to go to court. It's not cheap, says Mr. Hill, but most times it's cheaper than a messy legal fight.

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