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Jumping into the Fray with Divorcing Clients

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Dear Bev,

When is it appropriate to recuse ourselves from a nasty divorce situation between existing clients? We are in a losing place if we take sides, and I do not prefer one member of the couple over the other. I enjoy both and what they are doing to each other – and to their investment portfolio – is atrocious.

— Douglas N.

Dear Douglas,

This is a very sticky wicket, indeed! In fact, there are a number of governing rules, depending on the state you work in, that you must heed. Be sure to find out what rules there are governing financial professionals in your state. To my knowledge, from an ethical standard there is nothing “wrong” with representing both sides in the financial matters. More importantly, you have an opportunity here to have a very direct conversation with these two people that you have worked with and care about. If you are up to it, consider calling them in together and showing them – quantitatively – what their anger and upset with one another is doing to their hard earned assets. They may say they don’t care, but sometimes being shown the black and white, with projections about what’s coming next, might help them calm down a bit.

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