Watch Intro Series

It’s Time to Talk Divorce – Episode #352


How Do I Get a Podcast?

A Podcast is a like a radio/TV show but can be accessed via the internet any time you want. There are two ways to can get the Dentist Money Show.

  1. Watch/listen to it on our website via a web browser (Safari or Chrome) on your mobile device by visiting our podcast page.
  2. Download it automatically to your phone or tablet each week using one of the following apps.
    • For iPhones or iPads, use the Apple Podcasts app. You can get this app via the App Store (it comes pre-installed on newer devices). Once installed just search for "Dentist Money" and then click the "subscribe" button.
    • For Android phones and tablets, we suggest using the Stitcher app. You can get this app by visiting the Google Play Store. Once installed, search for "Dentist Money" and then click the plus icon (+) to add it to your favorites list.

If you need any help, feel free to contact us for support.


Divorce has legal, financial, property, and custody issues that can seem so complicated—and deeply emotional—that people avoid talking about it. After putting it off for seven years, the Dentist Money™ Show thought it was time to give the subject some attention as Ryan welcomes attorney Marco Brown, of Brown Family Law. Divorces happen. Here are some things you should know.

 

Show notes
www.BrownFamilyLaw.com

 

 


 

Podcast Transcript

Ryan Isaac:
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Dentist Money Show brought to you by…

Ryan Isaac:
 Dentist Advisors, a no-commission fiduciary comprehensive financial advisor, just for dentists all over the country. If you have any questions, you want to talk to us, get your financial life in order, check us out dentistadvisors.com. Today, on the show, I have a long time friend of mine, an attorney named Marco Brown from Brown Family Law. We are talking about a heavy and unfortunate situation in life that happens and needs to be talked about and done the right way. And that topic is the topic of divorce. And so we’re talking about dos and don’ts, common pitfalls, common mistakes, especially when it comes to a dentist and a household that is typically a higher income and higher net worth household.

Ryan Isaac:
Many thanks to Marco. He’s been at this for a very long time, maybe one of the most prominent family law attorneys in Utah. And the guy just knows so much about this stuff. So my thanks to him for spending some time. We’ll probably have him back, do some more questions. I’m sure this will… We’ll get some questions, but very helpful stuff. If you happen to be going through any of this stuff right now, this is a must-listen. So thanks for being here, everybody. If you have any questions for us about your financial life, if you wanna talk to a financial advisor, you want to get organized, you wanna get your investing on the right way, you wanna make sure your career’s on track, you’re saving enough money, you’re not spending enough, that’s what we do, that’s all we do. Go to dentistadvisors.com, click the Book Free Consultation button. And let’s have a chat. Everybody, thank you for being here, thanks for the support and always tuning in. Enjoy the show.

Announcer:
Consult an advisor, or conduct your own due diligence when making financial decisions. General principles discussed during this program do not constitute personal advice. This program is furnished by Dentist Advisors, a registered investment advisor. This is Dentist Money. Now here’s your host, Ryan Isaac.

Ryan Isaac:
Welcome to the Dentist Money Show, where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I’m your host, Ryan Isaac. And I’m here today with a longtime friend, actually, Marco Brown from Brown Family Law. What’s happening, Marco? Thanks for joining us, man.

Marco Brown:
Not too much. Yeah, I think we got to know each other when you were renting space from Jake Inkins back in the day, right?

Ryan Isaac:
Yes. Yes, so long ago.

Marco Brown:
Like you were in a… Just an office, in the back of his office.

Ryan Isaac:
We were in the same building. This was like 15 years ago, and that’s so… It’s kind of funny to just be… Full circle back, having this conversation. But thanks. Thanks for being here, man. Really, really appreciate it. How about let’s start today? We’ll just give the topic. We’re going to talk about divorce today and the dos and the don’ts, the common mistakes, the things to keep in mind. You’ve been doing this for a long time. This is all you guys do, correct? Give us an intro. Give us an intro to Marco’s life in Brown Family Law.

Marco Brown:
Okay. So real quick history lesson. I started in 2010, came here to Utah. My wife wanted to get a doctorate at the U, so came back to Utah, and started with zero clients, zero network. I had $160,000 in debt from law school and loaned myself money to start this. And by the grace of providence, it is function, but it was not a good bet. It was a bad time. It’s 2010, right? Right after that… During kind of that Great Recession period. But it’s worked, and divorce is all we do, helped over 4000 people through that process, helping more and more people all the time. I think we have, what are we up to now, 10 attorneys, somewhere. Yeah. I think we have 10 attorneys, just hired two. We’ll hire more. It’s unfortunately, like that’s what we do. We’re well-positioned in the market, and now we’re growing. We’re expanding as well, so we’re in Utah, but we’ll expand into Arizona by the end of the year early…

Ryan Isaac:
Oh, you will.

Marco Brown:
Next year. Yeah, we’re going to be in that Phoenix area. Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
Cool. So for those listening, legal, I mean, all kinds of legal and law issues that people have to deal with. They’re very state-specific, and just licensing that, it kind of restricts too, but I guess anyone listening in Utah or Arizona will, at least by the end of this year, 2022, have a chance to reach out, get in touch, which we’ll get to in a little bit. So let’s just dive right in, man. Here’s the question I’ve got for you. You said 4000. You’ve worked with 4000 people or families so far. It’s a lot. A lot of…

Marco Brown:
Yeah, over 4000 to this point. Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. Okay. So I guess one thing off the top of my head is I’m just curious if there’s like… Are there any common themes in divorce cases, like times of life, triggers, things that kind of like, I don’t know, people could see things coming? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I’m just thinking of the cases we deal with with clients, and it seems like there’s some commonalities there. Maybe like age group, or demographic, or something.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, there are some commonalities. So I’ve looked at this recently. The most common timeline for getting divorce is actually within the first couple years. And especially now with COVID. COVID really set this off because you had people that were married for like three months, and then they were stuck together for three months and they’re like, “Nope, I ain’t doing this.” [laughter]

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. Nevermind, okay. Got it.

Marco Brown:
And they just hadn’t learned the coping mechanisms that you have to learn with your spouse in order to overcome things, right? Because I’ve been married for 21 years. My wife and I got married when we were 24, and just kind of figured out how to be adults together.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
But if you… If it’s been six months, you just don’t have that, those coping mechanisms down yet. So a lot of those people got divorced at the beginning of COVID.

Ryan Isaac:
Really, okay.

Marco Brown:
And a lot of them do get divorced within a very short time frame, within a year, or two years. So that is… That’s a real red flag area. After, oh, man, eight, nine, 10, people can stick things out for probably seven to eight years, and then there’s like, “No, I can’t do this anymore.” So there’s a lot that kind of go on at that point as well. I’m not sure if there’s another timeframe that there’s a real peak. The longer you’re married, the less likely it is you are going to get divorced. That’s just kinda…

Ryan Isaac:
Okay, interesting.

Marco Brown:
That’s kind of how it functions in general.

Ryan Isaac:
Interesting. Well, yeah, thanks for that insight, man. Like you said, it’s unfortunate that business is booming for you, but at least there’s people there to make it try to go as smoothly as possible. Can you walk us through just the basics, from the point of when a couple says, “Okay, we’re not… We’re going to get divorced. We’re not going to do this anymore,” is there a checklist of steps or just some basics to start thinking about as they decide how they’re going to negotiate, who’s going to be involved, are they going to take it all the way to the courts or do it personally? What’s the chain of events there that’s kind of the smart way to do it?

Marco Brown:
Okay. I’m going to try to walk through this. You may have to remind me a little bit.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s great. Anywhere you want to take it. Yeah. It’s good. You are the expert.

Marco Brown:
If you just decided that you want to get divorced, there are really two ways to go about it. There’s you come up with all… With the entire agreement. You’re going to figure out what you’re going to do with your kids, with your money, with everything else. Because people fight about two things in divorce, they fight about kids and money. So you’re going to figure all that stuff out. What are you going to do with the business? What are you going to do with the cars? And you write all that down and then you take it to an attorney like me and I put it together and that’s it. Like I shepherd it through the process and you pay me a few thousand dollars and we get done. So that’s the easiest way to do it. But that means that…

Ryan Isaac:
Sorry, is that mediation? Are you considered a mediator in that scenario? No.

Marco Brown:
No, no, no.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
No, I’m an attorney. So I work for one person, but if you’ve already come to an agreement on everything, then there’s not going to be a fight because you already have an agreement. And you’re just reading the words that I put into… Essentially legalese to get it through the court.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
So that’s the easiest way to do it and the least expensive way to do it, but it also requires you to be adults and sit down with each other and come up with a complete and total agreement. So there are a lot of people that can do that, and a lot of people can’t, and that’s okay if you can’t, because these things are really super important. So you disagree about the kids or you disagree about how you’re going to figure out alimony or child support or whatever it is, then that’s called a litigated case, because there’s litigation or a contested case because there’s a contest. And at that point, we’re talking to dentists here. We’re not talking to people that have like a cat and a Honda Civic.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, yeah.

Marco Brown:
So at this point, you got hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars invested in your…

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
Career, and your business, and everything else that goes along with it because you’re a dentists and you like nice cars, if you’re like my dentist who drives around with a much nicer car than I do. So at that point, you really should go search out an attorney to help you and to get things figured out. And we can go into mediation, we can get things negotiated. That’s what we do, that’s how we handle things, unless we have to go into court and punch people in the face, which I’m not a huge fan of. I mean, we’ll do it because we’re attorneys, but I’m not a big fan. So really we’re putting together the financial data and talking to our clients, saying, “How do you want this to work?” And then we get into mediation, and that’s when we negotiate. So it’s hardcore negotiation for hours and hours in mediation until we get everything done. And that…

Ryan Isaac:
Between two attorneys, so each party will have their own attorney in mediation. That’s what mediation is. I was going to ask what the definition of what that is.

Marco Brown:
Yep, exactly. Exactly. If you’ve got a brain in your skull, you’re both going to have attorneys there. Because there’s just so much at stake, you’ve got kids and hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. It’s a lot.

Marco Brown:
You need some insurance. Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s a lot on the line. So to back up a little bit, it’s really kind of fascinating that you’re saying in the cases, the easiest, cheapest way to do it if people are being adults and communicating with each other is they can determine the terms of everything. So you’re saying, just to clarify, maybe this is state-specific so you can let us know, that if the two parties are communicating, they can dictate… I mean, there’s no mandatory set things for child support, or alimony, or how to split assets, or that it’s gotta be certain percentages, or are there some guidelines, even if you are doing it yourself?

Marco Brown:
So in Utah, it may be slightly different in other states, but the real mandatory part comes in when it comes to child support. And even some states are different about this. Like in New York, I believe you can come up with your own agreement regarding child support. In Utah you cannot. So with regard to child support, the support is your child’s not yours and not your spouses. So you can’t negotiate around it, it kind of is what it is.

Ryan Isaac:
And it’s like you go look it up somewhere, what the rate’s supposed to be or something like that?

Marco Brown:
There’s a calculator, exactly. It’s based on gross monthly incomes and the number of overnights you have with your kids per year.

Ryan Isaac:
Got it.

Marco Brown:
Right.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
So that’s really the only one that is just set in stone, then everything else you can negotiate. And as long as you’re…

Ryan Isaac:
Oh, sorry, real quick, that’s for minors, right? Kids in the house, living with you.

Marco Brown:
Yes. Now, this depends on the state because in California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, states like that, child support can actually go beyond 18. I believe it goes to 21. Those are crazy states, I don’t partake in that.

Ryan Isaac:
I’m a Californian so…

Marco Brown:
You got crazy… They got crazy laws out there in California when it comes to divorce.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Sure. Totally. Okay.

Marco Brown:
So yeah, you have to look at your state, but the vast majority of states it goes ’til 18. Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
So that’s really the set in stone part, as far as I can tell from what I know about states. And then you can negotiate whatever else you want. Literally, unless you’re selling your kids into slavery, you can do kind of whatever.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. Yeah. So every, everything else is on the table. You don’t have to split everything 50-50. You can say, I’ll take a hundred percent of this, you take a hundred percent of that, 60-40. You can do whatever you want outside of child support. Interesting.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, exactly. And one of the very popular things that’s done in situations, in which dentist, doctors, lawyers, we serve a lot of these types of people, is that the dentist will have humongous amounts of debt associated with his or her, I want to say firm, but practice.

Ryan Isaac:
Practice, yeah.

Marco Brown:
And the entire practice is built on his or her goodwill, right?

Ryan Isaac:
Yes. I was going to ask about goodwill.

Marco Brown:
I mean, there’s little bit of money. Yeah, there’s a little bit of money in the chairs and the dental equipment and everything, but really, it’s almost 100% like the dentist’s goodwill.

Ryan Isaac:
Yes.

Marco Brown:
So in Utah, the way we do this is, and this is different in other states, it’s different in California, but in Utah, the dentist will get the entire practice, but the dentist also gets the debt associated with the practice. And then what we’re figuring out is the alimony that’s paid to the spouse. So a lot of times, because he or she gets that asset and then the accompanying debt, they’re taking on different sorts of things. A lot of times they’ll take on essentially the entire marital debt, and then the other spouse will get a little bit less in something… In some other asset. Because they’ve taken on an extra 200 or $300,000 in debt. Maybe they get a less out of the house or something like that. So you… We can always, always work the numbers.

Ryan Isaac:
Got it.

Marco Brown:
And if you are… And if you’re good with each other, and you want to do that, and the numbers aren’t exactly 50-50, then great.

Ryan Isaac:
Just whatever. So sticking with this path then, once that’s kind of settled, if they kind of have that, they put on a spreadsheet or whatever it is, it does have to be documented legally through the… And that’s where you… So they would take that document, chicken scratch on a napkin, spreadsheet, whatever it is, bring it to you, you put it into a legal document. What’s the process just legally? It gets filed somewhere with the courts? Or with the state? How does that actually work?

Marco Brown:
Yeah. So first caveat here, do not just write a document without a notary sign it. I’ve seen this before. Even from very sophisticated people, they think a notary means something. A notary just means that you are who you are. Like the person signing it is the person they say sign. But it has absolutely no legal effect really. So yeah, so people bring it to us, we put it into the language the court is going to accept, then everybody looks at it, everybody says that they agree to it, and then everyone signs it. Okay. So at that point, we have a pretty binding legal contract.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
Then what we do is we go file that with the court and we have to… There some things we have to do for service of process, and shepherding the documents through the court. There are many, many ancillary documents that we have to provide the court with, especially when there are children involved, so we have to tell them about like who the kids are, and child support…

Ryan Isaac:
Got it.

Marco Brown:
And so on and so forth. But, you know, there are a number of those documents, I believed I… I think it’s around 20 is in our packet that we have to file before we… So we can get it through the court process. But really, if everybody agrees to everything, it’s just us as the attorneys doing that.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
In Utah, you never show up to court, you never have to do anything. At the end of the process, we just send you your divorce decree, and you’re finished. Now, of course…

Ryan Isaac:
Oh, so they get the decree? Okay, yeah.

Marco Brown:
Yep, yep. Now, this is candy land, right? This is like the best of the best situation.

Ryan Isaac:
Yes.

Marco Brown:
But yeah, if you agree on everything, that’s how it goes down.

Ryan Isaac:
You alluded to something that I wonder if people do this where it’s kind of amicable and they’re communicating fine, and they write something out. Are there circumstances where they do like notarize some document and then never bring it to an attorney thinking it’s totally done? Does that happen?

Marco Brown:
Yes. Oh yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
And then I can imagine what happens later. Yeah.

Marco Brown:
Yeah. Then what happens later is somebody doesn’t abide by it, and then they bring it in to me. And I have to tell them that this is not a legally binding contract. [chuckle] And then they freak out. They’re like, “I’m still married? None of this means anything?” Like, absolutely, none of that means anything.

Ryan Isaac:
Oh yeah, because… Yeah if they don’t go through the attorney, then the actual divorce legally is not finalized, from their standpoint.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, exactly, they’re still married. Yep. And I’ve had people that thought it was finalized, and they went and got remarried. So it’s just a mess.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
And then we have to deal with, you know, bigamy laws.

Ryan Isaac:
Well, then there is tax filings too. Yeah, bigamy laws and then tax filings because they’ve been filing single, and it could have been household, or they’ve been filing household, it should have been single or something. Okay.

Marco Brown:
It’s bad. It’s really bad. And this is why I tell people, “Hey, look, if you got a Honda Civic and a cat, then great. You do not need an attorney. If you are a sophisticated player, do not cheap out. Like, look, I don’t do my own root canals. I pay a guy to do my root canals.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally. Yeah.

Marco Brown:
Because I’m stupid when it comes to being a dentist, right? If you’re a dentist, you are stupid when it comes to being a lawyer, just accept that and pay a guy like me, pay the specialist and get it done.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Jess Reynolds:
Hey everyone. This is Jess Reynolds with Dentist Advisors. As you know, we are passionate about giving dentists the education and resources they need to make smart financial decisions. We’ve brought you the Dentist Money Show podcast, which has been downloaded over a million times. And we’ve been providing dentists with a premier private wealth management experience for 15 years. Honestly, it’s been great. And now we’re adding to our lineup to help even more dentists get the financial guidance they need.

Jess Reynolds:
Now, not every dentist is looking for the Cadillac experience that comes with our private wealth management service. So we have introduced a self-paced, subscription-based, planning service, called the Dentist Money membership. For a monthly fee, Dentist Money members get access to a suite of planning tools, including the innovative elements app, an investing portal, CE-approved content, and a lot of other cool members-only benefits. Plus, as a dentist money member, you can pay for one-on-one coaching sessions with a CFP advisor on an as-needed basis. To learn more about these features, visit dentistadvisors.com. You can get started right from the website or book a 15-minute demo just to see how it all works. That’s dentistadvisors.com.

Ryan Isaac:
This is just from my observation. Is it common for people to start out the process fairly amicable, and working together, collaborative, and then it just kind of devolves and gets bad over the weeks and months?

Marco Brown:
Yeah. Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
Like they think, it’s… It begins like, “I’ll hear this. I’ll get a call, they tell me the news. I’m like, “Oh, bummer, crap.” Okay. Well, like I’ll, you know, let’s, let’s start working on things, I’ll introduce you to who I need to, we’ll start working on stuff.” And they’re like, “No. But it’s good, we’re friendly, it’s all good, we are having a good agreement, we’re just solidifying things.” And three months goes by, there’s no progress, and then it’s a total fight and it’s chaos and then it’s bad. You know. Is that pretty common?

Marco Brown:
Yeah, that’s fairly common. That happens. That happens quite a lot. So what’ll happen is you go through, you think, “Okay, we got this.” And then you go through, and then there’s one thing, maybe it’s the kids, right?

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
So they want 50-50, but you’re a dentist, you’re not really made for that. You know.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah…

Marco Brown:
And then the wife says…

Ryan Isaac:
What’s the dream house? And they’re like, I designed this thing and now I don’t want a part. Yeah, totally. There’s some emotional.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, whatever it is. Or you’re not paying enough alimony or whatever it is. And then you think you’re okay and then you’re just not. And when that one thing gets stuck in the wheel, then everything… The whole wheel comes apart. Right?

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, it falls off.

Marco Brown:
And that’s when people come into me and they’re like, okay, we need to get this done.

Ryan Isaac:
Now, it’s gonna be contested.

Marco Brown:
I say okay. That’s cool. Yeah, it’s cool. We’ll get you into mediation. It’s not as bad as you think it is, but you just sitting around yelling at each other at the kitchen table is not gonna get you done.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s not gonna get anything done. What about maybe the opposite scenario? I think I’ve seen this where they’re almost like being too nice about it or one spouse is like, look, I don’t even wanna step on any toes. I’m not asking for anything. And I’m not legal counsel, I’m not an attorney. And it’s weird when… I’m a fiduciary for a household, and so we have to split into different advisors oftentimes when this happens, because one person will say like, I’m not gonna ask for anything. I just don’t wanna rock the boat.

Marco Brown:
Mm-hmm.

Ryan Isaac:
I’m just gonna be cool. I’m gonna walk away. But that almost doesn’t seem smart either for one party to just say like, you just take it all. I don’t wanna rock the boat. You’re cool. We’re cool. Let’s just move on. That’s not, it doesn’t seem like good advice either or like a good approach.

Marco Brown:
No, I’m not the biggest fan of that. So I’m going to say something, and I hope it doesn’t insult your listeners.

Ryan Isaac:
Let’s say it.

Marco Brown:
But dentists tend to… Well, when dentists commit adultery, they tend to commit adultery with the front desk lady.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
And attorneys tend to commit adultery with their paralegals, pilots with stewardesses, so on and so forth, doctors with nurses and dentists with their front desk lady. So what I’ve seen a lot is that happens and then the dentist feels really, really bad about it. And he…

Ryan Isaac:
Just concedes.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, he just gives her whatever. He’s like, fine. I’ll just give her all the money.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
And then everything he’s worked for is gone because he felt guilty. And then…

Ryan Isaac:
They changed their mind.

Marco Brown: Yeah. Well, he realizes that he’s given up too much, so he’s paying way too much in alimony, way too much in child support. And he also gave up assets and then he can’t even pay for himself and his kids. I’ve seen that so many times I can’t tell you.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. Yeah. Interesting. The other guilty party and some offense that they caused giving up too much. Okay. I’ve actually seen that. Just a different circumstance, but where a spouse was just being, in my opinion, too giving, and they were trying to be super nice about it and just be like, they can just take it all. But I just thought, man, you should go talk to an attorney ’cause I don’t think that’s in your best interest. I think you’ll change your mind. If this gets ugly in any shape or form, you’ll probably change your mind, and it’s not in your best interest.

Marco Brown:
Yeah. I have to have that conversation with people all the time, say, “Hey, look, if you feel some guilt, great, you probably should. So let’s give something, but let’s not give up the entire farm.” Right.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, ’cause it would be helpful in the long run.

Marco Brown:
Yeah. Women on the other hand, what they’ll do is they’ll say I’ll walk away from all the money if I get the majority of time with the kids.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. That’s common.

Marco Brown:
Okay. That’s good. Yeah, that’s fairly common. That’s good, but you still need money to raise these kids.

Ryan Isaac:
You need the money. Yeah, you need the assets that you help build and you’re a part of.

Marco Brown:
Yeah. Let me be a jerk. Let me be the jerk, right, and I’ll take that from you.

Ryan Isaac:
The classic jerk attorney.

Marco Brown:
Yep. Exactly.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. You go punch some faces. [laughter] Yeah, now that makes sense. Okay. Going back to the document itself, and we’re still in the easy scenario, I guess, do couples ever come back and change it? Like when I try to picture this, it’s hard to imagine how life is gonna change as the kids get older and careers change and now you split lives and you’re living in different place. It’s hard to imagine how that’s gonna evolve. Do documents ever get revisited, redone, redrawn up, renegotiated? Is that a thing?

Marco Brown:
Yeah. We call it modify. So yes, they do. Now, we always put in the document when it comes to kids, not when it comes to money. Money is solid from the date of the document on. So if you wanna change any of the money provisions, then you have to come back and actually change the document. But when it comes to kids, we always put provisions in there that this is how custody is gonna work, this is how parent time or visitation is gonna work. And then we put this line in there that says, but if by mutual agreement you decide to change this, you can, because life is complicated.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
And especially when it comes to kids.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
So you have to be able… It has to be dynamic. So a lot of times people will do that. They will even drastically change custody over the years, and that that’s okay. Now, sometimes they have to come in and change the provisions regarding the kids, because, say, one parent… They’ve essentially changed custody from one parent to another parent and that parent is still paying child support as if he or she didn’t have the kid. And after a while, they’re like, I don’t really wanna pay this child support because I have the kid all the time.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
So then we have to change it. That’s just one example.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
But that’s fairly common when it comes to children. But it’s always always way more dynamic when it’s kids.

Ryan Isaac:
What about when parents move out of state or really far away, even in the same state? I mean that seems like that’s probably a common scenario too, that could throw a wrench into things.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, that does happen. So in Utah, it’s become increasingly difficult to move, especially outta state. So 150 miles or more is what we use. So it’s become increasingly difficult over the years to be able to do that. It used to be that you could just move if you have the majority of time with the kids. But courts aren’t really doing that anymore. So if you have… If you don’t have the majority of the time with the kids, you have like at least 30% of the time with the kids though, then it’s almost impossible for the other person to move outta state.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
So if you have 10% of the time or 15% of the time, then they’re probably gonna be able to move.

Ryan Isaac:
They could just say, well, you can travel.

Marco Brown:
Because even if they’re…

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
Exactly. If they move, you’re still gonna get 10 or 15% of the time. But if you got 30, you’re never gonna get that if they live in a different state. So it’s really, really difficult. And what I tell people is, look, you need to assume if the other person’s gonna have 30, 40, 50%, you need to assume that you are never moving. You are gonna live within 20 miles of each other and preferably within five miles of each other, until those kids graduate from high school. That is just the way it is. Like you have to assume that.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. Interesting. Okay. So that’s the easy path. [chuckle]

Marco Brown:
Mm-hmm.

Ryan Isaac:
Which is like, “Man, that’s still a lot of moving pieces.” The hard path, so we can’t come to an agreement. We both get an attorney, we come to mediation, we go to court. You kind of mentioned this before you alluded to it, does it ever end up like it is on TV in the movies where it’s spouse against spouse in court, yelling, screaming, fighting in a court setting? Does it get there often? Is that common?

Marco Brown:
Now often… Well, it depends on who you are as an attorney, who you hire. But so for us, I can give you a breakdown of the numbers. So for us, about 85% of the time, no one ever sees the inside of a courtroom. So we gather the financial documents, we talk with the other attorney, we say, “Hey, look, let’s get into mediation and negotiation, get this thing done.” And that’s what we do. About 15% of the time we have to go to court to fix some problem, maybe it’s one person isn’t giving the kids to the other person or one spouse is like, cut the other spouse out for money. So we have to get into court.

Ryan Isaac:
They’re not abiding by the document, that’s what’s happening. They’re not following…

Marco Brown:
Yeah, well, there is no document at this point. There’s really no document.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, okay. Oh yeah, yeah.

Marco Brown:
But let’s say that the dentist is like, “You know what? You ain’t getting any of my cash anymore.” That’s a bad play.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
Don’t do that sort of thing. But it happens and we have to go into the court to get temporary alimony and temporary child support figured out, right? So that’s about 15% of our cases. But the vast majority, I mean the vast majority, 95%, have either zero appearances in court or one appearance in court. So we go in, we get some orders to kind of figure out what’s going on right now, and then we go to mediation and we get everything done. So, at least about 5% of cases where we have to go past that, and at the end of the day, though, 1% of our cases go to trial, because we really just want to get this thing negotiated and done. Because if we go to trial, and I tell people this all the time, “Look, if we go to trial, I am going to break your spouse’s face.”

Ryan Isaac:
Mm-hmm.

Marco Brown:
‘Cause that’s my job.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s your job. It’s your job, yeah.

Marco Brown:
Yep. And I don’t… And I’ll do that because you’re gonna pay me a lot of money to do it, and maybe it’s necessary. I’ve had cases where that’s exactly what was necessary, and I did it, and did it exceedingly well.

Ryan Isaac:
Sure.

Marco Brown:
But at the same time, you gotta realize that once I do that, you’re never gonna have a relationship with that person again.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, that’s what the ugly scenario is. That’s what you’re talking about.

Marco Brown: Yep. Yep.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, and it’s just…

[overlapping conversation]

Marco Brown:
So you reserve that for the worst of the worst, man.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. So it sounds like most don’t end up heading there in the first place though.

Marco Brown:
No.

Ryan Isaac:
Which is…

Marco Brown:
No, that’s not the way we do it. Now, you can go to other attorneys, and that is exactly where they’ll come from; from the beginning. But that is not how we do it because that ruins… That tends to ruin relationships and it tends to ruin kids’ lives. And I’m just not, I’m not into that.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. Totally, man. What’s your role or opinion on involving, let’s say, a CPA in the transaction? Because a lot of times there’s tax consequences and especially just different tax filings now, is that something you guys work with, someone’s CPA and you kind of just… I imagine as they’re negotiating like, “You take this brokerage again, I’ll take this 401k, you take the house, I’ll pay you this much money, but oh our tax, rate’s gonna skyrocket because now we’re single filing, joint or single filers… ” Well, what’s the role of a CPA with you guys in this negotiation and analysis stage?

Marco Brown:
Yeah. We definitely… We will go to a CPA if it’s necessary. Now most of the people we’re helping, it’s not necessary. We’re not dealing with millionaires most of the time, but…

Ryan Isaac:
High income. Yeah, totally.

Marco Brown:
Yeah. If we are, then yeah, it’s good to go to a CPA and get some ideas of like, oh, okay, this is how this is going to affect, this…

Ryan Isaac:
What to expect.

Marco Brown:
Yeah. This kind of negotiation is gonna affect it this way. You pay alimony. For instance, in 2017, the Republicans passed a tax bill. And before the tax bill, the person who received alimony paid taxes on the alimony, but to bring in more money, they changed it. So the person who’s paying the alimony keeps paying taxes on the alimony. So we have to figure that into our calculations as we’re negotiating. Yeah, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to this and CPAs can help out quite a bit.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, I can imagine that would be… As I’ve tried to give some advice to people. Our role as financial advisors, we kind of usually come in at the end of these things. We’re there at the beginning a lot of times because they’re kind of breaking the news to us, but we’re there in the end when we have to re-title accounts and divide assets and move things around. But yeah, an attorney’s like it’s just imperative for a dentist. There’s no other way to do it. I can’t imagine going through this scenario without an attorney and a CPA to just have a heads-up on, especially the tax bills. You’re just gonna have a costlier life to pay for because of taxes, man.

Marco Brown:
I can’t tell you how often I deal with really sophisticated players, and they just do not wanna hire an attorney, and they totally don’t.

Ryan Isaac:
Really.

Marco Brown:
And, I think, “Man, this is… I understand that you don’t like attorneys. That’s cool, whatever, but we are absolutely necessary because you have so much at stake.” A 10%, let’s think about this, a 10% difference in your asset division can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
And you’re gonna pay an attorney $10,000 to get this figured out. That’s our kind of our average, about $10,000. So, you’re gonna pay us $10,000 to get it all figured out or you’re 10% off and it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, right? It’s just a no-brainer that you pay us to get this stuff done and do it correctly.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. So far, we’ve covered, if I were to ask common mistakes, common… Yeah, common mistakes people make when they go through this, we’ve kind of listed the do it yourself, but not bring it to an attorney problem.

Marco Brown:
Mm-hmm.

Ryan Isaac:
Not hiring an attorney at all especially when it’s escalating or it involves just a high net worth. Anything else come to mind when you think of top mistakes people make when going through a divorce?

Marco Brown:
Yeah. The number one is being a jerk.

Ryan Isaac:
[chuckle] Okay.

Marco Brown:
That is not… It’s not gonna, it’s really not gonna… This is my number one rule when it comes to divorce, is be nice and that doesn’t mean that you can’t fight because you can and you should, if it’s necessary. But you’d never have to be a jerk. That is not going to help you at all. It’s not gonna help you with your soon-to-be ex, it’s not gonna help you with your kids, it’s not gonna help you with your attorney. Your attorney’s not gonna like you if you’re a jerk. Your attorney is not gonna like you if you are a jerk and you’re paying the guy. The other attorney’s not gonna like it and the judge is gonna hate you.

Ryan Isaac:
Hmm.

Marco Brown:
Like there’s no good scenario for you being a jerk. There’s no way it works out well.

Ryan Isaac:
Number one rule. Okay. Biggest common mistake, don’t be a jerk. Yes, hire an attorney especially if… I mean our whole audience, yes, hire an attorney. No question. And even if it’s amicable, and you’re writing things up yourself, eventually it’s gotta be back in the hands of an attorney to finalize things. Anything else coming to mind…

Marco Brown:
Exactly.

Ryan Isaac:
Common mistakes, common things people mess up on or make mistakes on when they’re going through this?

Marco Brown:
I think the other thing is listening to people who have gone through divorce in the past and believing them. ‘Cause here’s the deal. Everyone lies to me. And I just accept that, and it’s okay.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. Yeah, all right.

Marco Brown:
So there’s little lies and there are really big lies. I fire people…

Ryan Isaac:
How do you mean… How do you mean it? Like what do you mean?

Marco Brown:
Everybody… Nobody will tell me the truth about how they act in their marriage.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
Okay. Every marriage…

Ryan Isaac:
It’s always the other person.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, it’s always the other person.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
There are very, very few people that come into my office and say, yep, I totally screwed up. And he or she was golden. Like that really doesn’t happen. Everyone’s gonna lie to me a bit.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Marco Brown:
And that you just have to accept that. But when it comes to talking to other people about their divorces, you have to realize that they’re lying to you as well. Okay?

Ryan Isaac:
Mm-hmm.

Marco Brown:
And they might not even realize it, but usually they do. They’re just kind of fudging the truth. So when somebody tells you, this is how my divorce worked out and you’re golden, or you’re screwed realize that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
And they’re probably lying to you about their behavior before the divorce anyway. And kind of what led them to that place.

Ryan Isaac:
One more question, unless you can think of anything else you wanna throw out there as like tips, pointers, must-dos, anything else come to mind that we maybe not have covered?

Marco Brown:
Oh yeah. When it comes to the kids, if you have kids, man, don’t talk bad about the other parent. Okay. So your kid believes himself or herself to be 50% of both of the parents. Okay. Even if you identify… Like I identify more with my dad than my mom.

Ryan Isaac:
Hmm.

Marco Brown:
Okay. I just have his personality more than I do of my mom’s, but I have a good amount of my mom in me. But I’m cognizant enough. Like when I was a kid, I knew that I was both my dad and my mom in some way, and kids know that. So when you talk about your soon-to-be ex poorly, your kid really takes that to heart because that kid believes that they’re half the other person. Right? And really internalizes that. So don’t do that stuff to your kids. Don’t put your problems and your mistakes on your children. That is mean and cruel and you should absolutely not do it.

Ryan Isaac:
Man, that’s a really good tip. I was gonna ask about kind of the effect with children, and I’m sure it’s really subjective and very case by case. I’m sure there’s some that are quite heartbreaking too, that you have to deal with. So yeah, that’s a really good piece of advice.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, divorce… I’ll just kind of tell you what my…

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
My view on this. There are a lot of divorce attorneys out there. This is one of the major problems I have with my colleagues who I genuinely enjoy, for the most part. They will tell you that everything will be hunky-dory after your divorce and kids will be okay and you’ll be okay and you’ll live a better life afterward. Hogwash, most of the time that is actually not true. It affects kids quite badly. Now, there’s a lot of good research that if you are just at each other’s throat all the time and arguing and screaming and whatnot, it’s better for you to be divorced because that arguing and screaming really takes a toll on the kids. But that’s not most people. Most people just kind of drift apart and then they decide to get divorced. And then that, your kids, it’s gonna mess your kids up a little bit. Okay. And you just need to realize that that is the case and accept it or don’t accept that in yourself. This is tough love here, but you know, again, I have a lot of divorce attorney friends that will not say this, but I say this all the time.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
I actually don’t want people to get divorced. Like I tell people, look, don’t pay me a whole bunch of money to get you divorced if you can pay a therapist to save your marriage.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally. I was gonna ask that.

Marco Brown:
Please go pay that therapist to save your marriage. Right. Do whatever you need to, to save your marriage. Like, I’m the legal technician that can get this done, when you’ve tried everything else.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
And then you’re gonna pay me a whole bunch of money to get it done right.

Ryan Isaac:
Mm-hmm.

Marco Brown:
But please don’t pay me if you can.

Ryan Isaac:
And then there’s gonna be consequences. Yeah.

Marco Brown:
Yep.

Ryan Isaac:
That was actually my last question. It’s kind of a subjective one, but just your take on the effects and what’s worth it, what’s not worth it, what should you do to try to prevent it? And so I appreciate that insight, man. It’s a heavy subject.

Marco Brown:
Yeah, do everything possible. Now, I will say though, that my mom was abused in her first marriage, was physically abused in her first marriage. And if you are being physically abused, and this happens to a lot of guys, okay? I mean the rate of domestic violence, women on men domestic violence is really high as well. Okay. So if you are being physically abused, sexually abused, these sorts of things, like get out, please get out. Right?

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. Yeah.

Marco Brown:
You know, there’s a fundamental difference between a situation in which you’ve just drifted apart because you haven’t tried hard enough on your marriage, which is kind of the vast majority of divorces.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
But there’s a real difference between that and you getting your clocked cleaned by… I mean, your clock cleaned by your spouse. If you are being abused, just please get out.

Ryan Isaac:
That’s the boundary. That’s the boundary. Yeah, yeah. Remove yourself and your kids from the situation.

Marco Brown:
Yep. Yep.

Ryan Isaac:
How can people get in touch? This, again, would be for Utah residents and soon-to-be Arizona residents as you guys expand and are licensed to do business in Arizona as well. How do people get in touch?

Marco Brown:
Yeah, absolutely. So you can call our number. It’s 801-685-9999. It’s Brown Family Law. So you can Google it or just Google Marco Brown. I’m gonna be the first one that comes up. But give us a call. We’ll get you in here. We’ll get you taken care of if that’s necessary. If you’re just kind of wondering about information, let’s just sit down. I can answer any of your questions. Totally fine. Charge $300 for a consultation because we actually give serious legal… Sorry. My brain stopped working there.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
We answer legal questions.

Ryan Isaac:
Totally.

Marco Brown:
We give serious legal advice.

Ryan Isaac:
In a consultation.

Marco Brown:
During the consultation.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
So you’re gonna pay for that.

Ryan Isaac:
That’s amazing. Do you…

Marco Brown:
But again…

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, I was gonna ask, do you blog, do you put out videos? Do you write, do you put out content as thing…

Marco Brown:
Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. That’s on there, the website?

Marco Brown:
Yep. So you can go to our website, hundreds of thousands of words of content on the website.

Ryan Isaac:
Cool.

Marco Brown:
We’ve started really becoming the Wikipedia for divorce in Utah and kind of the United States. So there’s that as well.

Ryan Isaac:
Marco Brown, Brown Family Law. Reach out folks. This guy’s been around for a long time, he’s seen a lot of it. Also, in your consultation, if you reach out, you can ask him if you have any travel plans to Europe, because I think this guy’s there a lot. Right? How many times a year do you go to… That’s your place and your wife sings opera, is that correct?

Marco Brown:
Yeah. She sings opera.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah.

Marco Brown:
And she lived in Argentina when she was younger and speaks Spanish, but she’s sung Italian so much, she like gets it. I lived there when I was younger and I go back a lot. So this year, I’ll go back four times.

Ryan Isaac:
So cool.

Marco Brown:
It is my happy place, man. I go there, I eat, I look at art, we’re gonna buy a villa over there.

Ryan Isaac:
You do. So cool.

Marco Brown:
And I just, I love it. I love it.

Ryan Isaac:
And Marco’s a foodie. I mean, I would qualify you as a foodie. I’m sure that’s a true statement, right, from online post?

Marco Brown:
That is a true statement, man.

Ryan Isaac:
You post things about food. I’ve never even questioned in my entire life, and I’m like, that’s a foodie right there. So there you go.

Marco Brown:
Food is how we know God loves us.

[laughter]

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. Well, let’s end with that, man. Thanks for being here. I really appreciate it. Thanks everyone for listening. We’ll catch you next time on another episode of the Dentist Money Show. Take care now. Bye-bye.

Practice Transitions

Get Our Latest Content

Sign-up to receive email notifications when we publish new articles, podcasts, courses, eGuides, and videos in our education library.

Subscribe Now

Related Resources