Lydia Sartain, a partner with the Gainesville, Ga. law firm Stewart Melvin & Frost, is a successful divorce attorney and mediator specializing in family law. She also is a former district attorney and a former advocate for children at the state level.
Lydia is considered an expert in the field of family law and has a keen insight into a rising trend of complex divorce cases that often require the resources of an entire legal team in order to reach resolution and a fair settlement.
Question: What types of divorce cases require specialized legal services above and beyond what a good divorce attorney can provide?
Lydia:The most obvious situations involve cases where one or both spouses own a business. In these types of cases, it is important that the divorce settlement not restrict the future operations of the business, because it could potentially spill over to affect many other livelihoods – such as employees and stockholders.
Therefore, it may be just as important for either the husband or the wife to “divorce “the business – in addition to their spouse. For example, years down the road, the owner may want to sell the business. But if the divorced spouse still holds some interest in the business, it could be very messy trying to negotiate a final sales price.
The bottom line is that many divorce cases involving corporate interests may require expertise beyond what a divorce attorney can provide.
Question: So divorces certainly can go beyond just family considerations, correct?
Lydia: In my role as an attorney and mediator in divorce cases, I am most interested in achieving resolution and a fair settlement. Consequently, I may need to draw on a corporate attorney to help structure the portion of the divorce settlement that involves a business asset.
My expertise is in family law. I can’t pretend to be a corporate lawyer or to understand the legal complexities of a business transaction that may be part of a divorce settlement.
If you are going through a divorce, it is important to let your attorney know all facets of your business interests. Fortunately, I work with a large regional law firm with the resources of numerous legal specialists under one roof. Therefore, I have access to the best corporate attorneys to provide the most comprehensive representation of my clients.
Question: Besides business ownership, are there other legal facets of divorce that need to be considered?
Lydia: Absolutely. In going through a divorce, you need to be very careful about the impact on your tax situation. That requires a tax attorney. With older couples going through divorce, I often consult with our estate planning team.
Many divorce settlements involve selling land and checking ownership titles. I often collaborate with my partner Tom LeFevre or Scotty Ball, who is our firm’s real estate specialist. Our firm also has the resources of Steve Cornelison, one of the region’s top pension lawyers, who provides expertise on handling the disbursement of future pension and retirement benefits.
I think by now that you get my main point. Sometimes, it is simply in your best interests to seek the services of a large law firm of specialists like Stewart Melvin & Frost to make sure you are receiving the most comprehensive legal representation – particularly in divorces that involve complex finance and taxation issues.
Also, in respect to our law firm – Stewart Melvin & Frost – we have four attorneys with advanced LLM degrees in taxation, which is the most of any firm in this part of the state. That is a huge asset for my clients as well as those of the rest of the attorneys in our firm.
But no matter who you hire as your attorney in a divorce situation, I want to emphasize the importance of relying on outside experts as needed to ensure a settlement that is fair and will not come back to harm your future financial interests. This approach may sound costly, but it can definitely save you money and prevent a lot of stress on down the road.