After meeting with a networker in 2015, John Cito, a certified divorce financial analyst, was introduced to Lisa Wolman, a divorce mediator and the owner of The Wolman Mediation Group, LLC.
The duo participated in one of Cito’s podcasts just one year later to discuss the changing landscape of divorce, and soon decided to team up and take a different approach to divorce – one that reduces debt and time in the courtroom.
Wolman helps clients work through the grief that is often associated with divorce and tries to minimize the chance of clients going to court to settle their disputes.
“The more you fight, the more money [lawyers] make,” said Wolman. “People go to court and then the judges usually order mediation eventually. I try to get [clients] before they reach that point. When they work with me, they’re saving assets because marital assets are usually depleted on fighting in court.”
According to Wolman’s website, Wolman helps clients avoid prolonged litigation by fostering “sustainable compromise” and “productive communication.” Unlike an attorney, Wolman can represent both clients.
She also advocates for clients’ children and makes extensive parenting plans.
“My personal mission is to stop people from destroying everything they’ve built and from destroying their children,” she said. “I want people to get along for the sake of the kids.”
Cito focuses on helping women manage their finances once they come into newly attained assets, because once a divorce is finalized, there are typically lifestyle adjustments.
“I always had a financial planning practice and years ago, I had four referrals – I don’t know how it happened. They all came in and they had the same scenario. They said, ‘I got married right out of high school, raised a family…’ Now, they’re all in their 50s saying, ‘It’s over. I have all this money and I’m scared.’ And that’s when the light bulb went off,” said Cito. That’s where I shifted my practice and went and got my certification [as a divorce financial analyst].”
His job consists of helping clients determine how feasible it is to keep certain assets, deal with retirement plans and recognize the tax consequences of certain financial decisions.
While Cito and Wolman can be hired in lieu of an attorney, they will work with attorneys, as well.
After drafting a memorandum of understanding, Wolman tries to work with both partners in the same room to create a plan, regarding the marital home and children. After the logistics are defined, she produces a written document that can be sent to the couple’s attorneys in addition to an addendum prepared by Cito.
Wolman can be appointed to clients by court. She said her work with Cito could be especially of service to Bergen County residents in that clients do not need to travel far to settle their divorce.
“We know the people in Bergen County. It’s part of giving back to the county,” said Cito. “I grew up here. Our businesses are here. We know people here; we network here; we contribute here.”
Cito and Wolman communicate almost daily to relay information from their meetings with clients to each other and to discuss case files.
“We are on a mission and we want to basically shake up the divorce world, and we want to take it and change it because it’s broken, it’s antiquated and it needs to be changed,” Wolman said.
By Brianna Ruback