To Stay or To Go? The Difficult Choice of Divorce with Erin L. Kopelman, Esq.

 
Philip Fish, CFP® and Estate Planning Specialist with Sandy Spring Trust

Join Philip Fish, CFP® and Estate Planning Specialist with Sandy Spring Trust, and Erin L. Kopelman, Esq., Lerch, Early and Brewer, Chtd as they discuss about one of the most difficult decisions an individual can make: To stay or leave a marriage.

Guest Speaker: Erin L. Kopelman, Esq. is a family lawyer serving clients in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. She works for Lerch, Early and Brewer, a local law firm founded in 1950. Erin discusses many of the factors that must be considered including finances, property and the health of the family.

 


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  • Question

    To Stay or To Go? The Difficult Choice of Divorce

    Answer

    - Hello, everyone, and welcome to Sandy Spring Bank's "Real Life Matters Discussion Series." My name is Phil Fish. I'm a certified financial planner and an estate planning specialist with Sandy Spring Trust. I'm the host of this series as we interview local professionals in the areas of law, tax, finance, and healthcare. Before I introduce our guest today, Erin Kopelman, there is a brief disclaimer that I do need to read so please bear with me one moment. Sandy Spring Trust does not endorse nor recommend the services of any person or entity not they affiliated with Sandy Spring Bank. The opinions and statements expressed by Erin L. Kopelman Esquire and Lerch Early Brewer reflect their own views and do not necessarily represent the views of Sandy Spring Trust. This material is provided solely for educational purposes by Sandy Spring Trust, the division of Sandy Spring Bank, and is not intended to constitute tax, legal, accounting, or healthcare advice or recommendation for any investment strategy or transaction. You should always consult with your own tax, legal, accounting, financial, or healthcare advisors regarding your specific situation and needs. Sandy Spring Trust and the Sandy Spring Bank logo are registered trademarks of Sandy Spring Bank. All rights are reserved. Thank you for allowing me to take care of that little housekeeping. Erin, thank you so much for joining us today with our Discussion Series. Could we start by having you just give a little background on yourself, and where you work, and your company, the firm that you work with, and how you ended up in your current position?

    - Yes, and thank you, Phil, for having me. So I'm Erin Kopelman. I am a divorce lawyer. I work in Maryland and in DC, I'm a partner at Lerch Early and Brewer law firm in Bethesda. Our firm handles all sorts of areas of law, we have 70 lawyers, and I'm fortunate enough to work in our family law department. We handle and represent clients in all sorts of family law issues, divorce, custody, child support, alimony, equitable distribution of property, post-judgment, so post divorce issues, and pre and post-nuptial agreements.

    - Wonderful, and the topic today is a challenging one, it's to stay or to go, and the difficult choice of divorce. And you and I have spoken quite a bit before today's program about what a difficult decision it must be for an individual to face. So why don't you talk about your experiences and what you've seen in really dealing with individuals of different ages, different lengths of marriages, it might be a new marriage, could be one with young kids, kids who have left, no kids, different financial situations, so there's all types of scenarios where an individual may face this dilemma of trying to make that very difficult decision.

    - Yes. So, getting divorced is one of the hardest decisions someone will make in their personal life and I have a lot of people who come to see me who haven't decided what they wanna do. And my advice is always the same: to explore their relationship and do what they can to make sure it's the right decision. So I always suggest counseling or therapy, both jointly and individually, because it's a bell you can't unring and its a decision not to be made lightly. For those who come to see me, even those who say, I know I wanna get a divorce, I know this is the right thing for me, a lot of them are actually also trying to decide when is the right or best time for them to make that decision. You know, some people are saying, you know, let's go ahead right now, and others are feeling like there's some milestone in their life that they want to wait for such as, a big popular one is children. They want their children to graduate high school, or go off to college, graduate college, and depending on at what stage they come to see me, it could be a really long time. And actually, the decision to wait can have a really big consequence and effect on the outcome of what happens in their divorce. And there are a lot of reasons to stay, or to go, to do it now, to do it later, emotional, financial, but I think it's important to understand the effect of that choice on their children, and on spousal support, and division of property really.

    - Yeah, I guess to decide to end a marriage but to kind of delay it to a year, three years, five years difference, a delay for whatever reason, I guess the challenge then is the emotional, mental stress that would happen during that time and the effect it would have on other members of the family. You know, if it is children, I can't even imagine how difficult that would be.

    - Yes, so that is probably the most common one I hear is parents who want to know should I get divorced now or later? And a lot of them are saying, oh, I think it should be later, even if there's arguing and things that the children are seeing, because they want the children to reach a certain milestone. Sometimes it's literally, you know, it could be young, getting them into grade school, and sometimes it's graduating high school, but most recent studies are actually showing that children observing parental conflict actually has very serious long-term consequences and causes serious harm on children as they develop even into adulthood. And so it's something where parents are coming and saying, oh, I'm not sure, you know, I feel like that would be so hard on the kids right now, and depending on the level of conflict in the house, it's actually causing more harm to wait.

    - Right, and you also mentioned how financially it might make a difference as well as far as when you get to that point, a delay might hurt one of the spouses if they choose to delay that decision.

    - Yeah, so actually financially, getting divorced sooner or later affects you financially in two big ways. One, it can affect support wise, so talking more about alimony, which is spousal support from one spouse to the other, and then the other is division of property, and sometimes as a result, debt. So, both in Maryland and in DC, in determining alimony, so the spousal support component, the court determines the amount, whether there's gonna be alimony, and if so, the amount and duration based on factors. And the factors are nearly identical in both Maryland and in DC to determine alimony. And then in property, to divide property, the court says there's marital property, so the property accumulated during the marriage that's not acquired prior to marriage, not during the marriage by gift from a third party or inheritance, but the property earned during marriage, that's equitably divided in both Maryland and DC. So equitable doesn't necessarily mean equal, and again, in determining what's equitable, the court's gonna look at a set of different factors, they're very similar in both Maryland and DC, but to determine what they think is equitable, what the court thinks is fair.

    - Okay.

    - And one of the factors in both alimony and in equitable distribution of property is the duration of the marriage.

    - And I think one thing when we were talking before, you said that you handle clients in Maryland and DC, but it's very important that clients get legal advice from lawyers who are familiar with the laws in the state where they reside because family law is different by each state. You said Maryland and DC might have similarities, but other states may be very different, so.

    - Yes. And so actually, Maryland and DC, their equitable distribution factors are, while they're similar, there are actually some differences. And related to that, a big difference is how they handle debt. So in Maryland, the court can not allocate debt, so however the debt is titled is how you're stuck with it.

    - Oh, dear.

    - Yes, the court can actually equitably divide marital debts.

    - So then it does become an issue such as somebody's getting a credit card in their name and racking up a very large debt in their name, that in some ways, depending on which side of the fence you are, it could be a good thing or a bad thing is that you can't shift it over to the other side.

    - Correct. Right, and so, sort of applying these factors as to whether to end the marriage now versus should we wait until some milestone happens really depends on your marriage. You know, every situation is gonna be fact specific, but if we apply them to alimony, if you are the spouse that is the earner, and I usually refer to them as the moneyed spouse, and so you have a case where you earn substantially more than your spouse, so this is an alimony case, then you're probably better off getting divorced sooner than later because the length of the marriage will be shorter and your spouse will be younger, and age and duration of the marriage are two things that can be considered. On the other hand, if for example, your spouse has never worked and is on the cusp of graduating from graduate school and it's gonna be working in two months or six months, there might be reason to sort of stick it out and get over a certain hump, but generally speaking, if you're the moneyed spouse, the longer you're in the marriage, the more susceptible you are to more alimony, to paying more alimony.

    - It sounds like family law is a lot like many areas of law and finance, is that there might be general rules, but every individual is unique, every case is unique, and so when we deal with, I work at Sandy Spring Trust, we deal with financial and estate planning, and when I do seminars talking about those issues, we stress that to be very careful about taking something you hear or you read and applying it to your situation because there's so much nuance in the law that a professional like you and other family lawyers can be that navigator to take that unique situation 'cause every family's different. And you know, the factors that go into it, who's making how much money, the age of the children, what assets are currently held, how those assets are titled currently, and that all kind of goes into that cooking pot for you to decide the best strategy moving forward to represent your client, 'cause I guess when somebody comes to you, then they become your client and your job is to help them as best as you can within the law, navigate through this difficult process that they're thinking about undertaking.

    - Right, it's almost like every question you could answer with, it depends.

    - Yes.

    - But similarly, going to the whole concept of general rules that apply, you're right, it is gonna depend on each case, but in this situation, how staying versus going affects alimony, if you are the dependent spouse, so you're a spouse that is probably going to receive alimony, the older you are, the longer you're married, the more likely you are to receive alimony, but you're banking on a few things if that's your strategy. You're banking on the fact that your spouse remains healthy, remains able to work, remains employed, and so those are generally yes, you'd be better off provided all of those other things fall into place and continue to happen.

    - So, I think when we talked before, you said there are a couple of factors that come into play about, overriding kind of topic for today, to stay or to go. I think one of them was the financial aspects, one might be children, one might be property, so why don't we take one at a time and take a little deeper dive into each of those. So, which one would you like to start with first?

    - Well, I think we did sort of touch on the first two, the children issues and the support issues, but I do think another, the property like you said, to me, that's a really big one. So as I said, property is equitably divided so it's not necessarily going to be equal. And when it comes to whether to stay or to go, you really have to look at each family's financial picture. One of the pieces that can be really difficult is I have a lot of clients come to me who have no idea what their financial picture actually is.

    - Yeah.

    - I'm sure you have that as well .

    - Yeah.

    - And so I, in seeing you today, I just looked up some quick statistics, and these are from the last year, but in 42% of relationships, one partner handles all the finances. And in 46% of marriages, couples have separate bank accounts.

    - Oh, okay.

    - So that's almost half of married people that might actually not know about their finances. And I'm a huge proponent of before we can actually even talk about what's best for the family, to stay in the marriage longer or to go, you've gotta get your arms around the finances. And that can be really hard, especially if you have a spouse who isn't cooperative in sharing that information.

    - Yeah, 'cause I guess if you're thinking about leaving, to try and gain access to the information to help you decide if leaving is the right decision, it's very hard to secretly 'cause a lot of the information may be password protected. So if you suddenly, if you haven't been paying bills your entire life and then all of a sudden you start asking for the passwords to the bank accounts and the credit cards, it's gonna feel very out of the norm for somebody to start asking about those questions.

    - Right. And so there's obviously always the direct approach, but for those people who either aren't sure whether they want to get divorced, or really think, yeah this is probably where it's gonna go but I'm talking five years from now, it's something to start early and there's a lot of things that you can do without breaking the law such as hacking into someone's computer, even your spouse's, you shouldn't do to get your arms around your finances. And so, one thing is the tax return is filled with great information, and some people are gonna say I don't even know anything about my tax return and my taxes. And so what I would say is understandable, but you can actually go onto the IRS's website and request copies of your tax returns, and they keep them for several years back so get those tax returns. And in there, if you have interest or dividend income, the bank's name and how much interest or dividend income will be listed, and then you would know, oh, we bank at this bank account. And that can get you started, it's also gonna share what your incomes are. So if you file jointly, that is a wealth of information. Another favorite thing I love to do is, and a lot of people don't know this, but United States Postal Service, you cannot open your spouse's mail if it's not directed to you. If it's not addressed to you, can't open it, but the United States Postal Service has this great feature where they will scan the outside of the envelopes to you every day. And so if you're like, I don't know where we bank and my spouse always picks up the mail and it'd be suspicious if I did, okay, go online and sign yourself up, and you'll get an email every day, and if your spouse is getting statements from Sandy Spring, you'll know, oh, we have accounts there. Or at least--

    - But that's also, it could be a nice way to track to make sure that mail isn't getting lost if you had a concern that somebody was maybe going to your mailbox, or different scenarios, I could see that service being very valuable.

    - Yeah. Other great things you can do if you have an accountant, talk to your accountant. If it's a joint accountant, they will talk to you. You could make an appointment with your financial advisor with or without your spouse and they're gonna go over that stuff with you. Another great thing is to tell your spouse like we need to do an estate plan. And I think almost every estate lawyer I know, the first thing they're gonna have you do is fill out a questionnaire with what are your assets and liabilities. There are a lot of other things you can do, some people, like I said, it's not about their spouse not knowing, they just haven't ever been involved, so if the mail is addressed to you, just keep an envelope for like a whole quarter, so three months, and just shove all the mail that you get when you're done looking at it there, and then you'll have a whole month's worth, a whole picture of what your bills and your finances have been over those three months. Run a credit report. That will tell you what debts you're on.

    - Okay.

    - You know, you can also look around your house, like, do you guys keep shared filing cabinets where you have the paperwork and maybe you just haven't looked at it? Those are all things you can do if you're not comfortable asking your spouse or your spouse is kind of putting you off if you will.

    - So you're playing Sherlock Holmes in many situations, trying to uncover knowledge, information to help you and your client make a more informed decision as far as what their options are. And I guess a big question you're asked a lot is what would my life look like at the other end of the tunnel or the walkway I'm looking to walk through, or the doorway I'm looking to walk through? You know, what kind of financial situation would I be in? And I guess whether that's for the moneyed spouse or not, the moneyed spouse, if they're initiating the conversation, might say, okay, if we do this split, what would my world look like?

    - Yes, and that's absolutely right, and that's why it's almost impossible for any divorce lawyer to answer without first getting our arms around the assets, and what's more, in addition to the assets, there's the debt aspect of getting our arms around that, but then also getting our arms around is this family, is there a spender or a saver? Are they both savers? Are they both spenders? Because in making the decision, if you've decided you wanna get divorced, to do it now versus I have it in my head we should wait a while, the question remains, what is my financial picture going to look like down the road if, you know, hopefully, knock on wood, everybody remains healthy and employed, but are they spending above their means? In which case, you're probably better off if you're married to a spender, going now versus later before there's nothing left, or the assets are significantly depleted, or there's debt. On the other hand, if you're a saver and you're married to a spender, you have the opposite problem. But I think, if generally, the family is accumulating assets and everybody's benefiting, then there's not as much harm in saying, okay, yes, I can see waiting because there's not as likely to be a financial hardship as a result of waiting.

    - Well, I'm sure you wear many hats, so you're kind of lawyer, you're part accountant, financial person, counselor, therapist, friend, I'm sure you find yourself wearing many different hats as you, and we do the same thing in our line of work with Trust. A lot of times we'll be brought in after the divorce has occurred to help either the non-moneyed spouse because they are very unsure of financial issues, and IRAs, and 401ks, and stocks, and bonds, and it's a whole new world for them, and so they need a very gentle hand. And at Sandy Spring Trust, we're under the Federal Fiduciary Standard so we're all salaried, and we have the client, the staff to really take a client and help them navigate through those difficult situations. We get involved a lot with individuals who've lost a spouse, who, same situation, a number of years go I helped a very nice lady who lost her husband suddenly. He handled everything and it actually made the process very difficult because a lot of the accounts were online, we didn't know the passwords, it was very hard to uncover. And so that the transition was a much harder process than it could have been if there'd been better communication. But it's very hard for somebody to get thrown into a world where they have a norm and now everything gets turned upside down to some degree, and that can be in some ways a positive, it could create a lot of opportunities for growth, but it is going to be very scary for the individual.

    - Yes, and that's I think something that we see a lot, is people considering, or have considered, or thought about divorce for a long time but put off speaking to a divorce lawyer because they're scared about what they're gonna hear, but in every one of those cases, they feel better knowing what that might look like after they've made the call. And it's right, we work with lots of people to help our clients who are in a situation where they've never filed a tax return, you know, we will introduce you to an accountant. And we've had a case similar as you described to someone who passed away, we've represented clients who are elderly and never paid bills, and we try to introduce them to someone, a bill payer, to teach them how to do these things that they've just never had to do before. And it's very common, you know, those statistics, you know, pretty much almost half of these marriages only one person is handling all of these things.

    - Yeah. So with the financial aspect, we know that there's information that needs to be gathered, we need to kind of know where we stand, I guess another huge issue is with children, even with adult children, you know how it's gonna affect them, but especially with children who are still in school, as far as custody issues and concerns there, I'm sure that's a major concern for many clients coming to you, is how's this going to look if we decide to part ways? You know, who's going to take care of school, and we have soccer practice, and music class, and all of these issues that we deal with.

    - Yes, and I think almost every client who's come to see me has the perception that staying together, no matter how bad the relationship between the husband and wife, is generally better for the kids, and the studies are showing that it's the opposite, that children who are privy to parental conflict actually have these really long-term negative effects on them psychologically. And so, I think that we can't, you know, parents need to do what's best, what they believe is best for their children, but simply giving them the information that they can read and make an informed decision is helpful, and they can consider that in their own family's scenario.

    - Yes. I can't even imagine how hard that must be, but also kids, you know that they're going to pick up on the emotional wellbeing of the parents around them, and so, is it better for them to be around two parents who are emotionally healthier after the split as opposed to having that forced connection?

    - You know, one thing I always say, everyone's like, oh, being a divorce lawyer must be difficult, and it is 'cause we're dealing with families who are going through some of the worst things they're ever going to have to go through, but I love my job because in pretty much all of my cases I always get an email or call a year later after the divorce and my client is really happier and doing well, and that's really rewarding for me because I have seen them go through something so difficult and they really are in a much more positive, new place.

    - Good. Yeah, you know, my line of work is financial matters, which is scary with the stocks, and bonds, and interest rates, and mutual funds, and there's confusion there, we deal with tax issues. We deal with illness. We deal with the fear of retirement and changes there, the incapacity of a loved one, the loss of a loved one, protecting family members. So a lot of times we're talking about sickness, and death, and taxes, but again, it comes back to protecting the client, protecting the family, protecting the assets, managing, navigating, and to have clients who can come to us and say help, we've got a storm brewing on the horizon, how do we handle that? And for us to use our expertise to say, we're just gonna head a little to the left, and we're gonna batten down the hatches, and we're gonna work our way through it. But we've seen this stolen before 'cause we've been doing this for a long time and there will always be storms out there. And in family law, it's the same thing. There will, Lisa and I, we've been married for 27 years and it's been a wonderful marriage and I am a better person for having Lisa by my side, but we've gone through some rough times, loss of family members, difficult times, financial rough patches. Lisa was actually the one who helped me get the job at Sandy Spring Bank 20 years ago 'cause I was very unhappy at my prior company and I was bringing it home, and I was just, I'd been there seven years and I just felt really stuck. And she said, you need to work somewhere else, you're not happy there. And she helped me get the resume and gave me the confidence to, which is scary changing jobs. And so, no, there are wonderful marriages that last and survive, but there are times when I know my wife and I've known friends, who've gotten a divorce and they are better for it at the end of the day. And they're able sometimes to find happiness down the line, which is wonderful.

    - That's so wonderful and that's what I experience, but you know, if again, if you know you're in an unhappy marriage, I do urge you to try counseling and see if the marriage is worth saving first before you take any action. I would also encourage that if you're considering it, even if you're not ready to make the decision, that you have a consultation with a divorce lawyer because they can tell you here's some things you could do to better your case, better your position, make yourself more secure if you so choose to get divorced. That doesn't mean that you have to act on them, and like I said, you wanna just encourage them to try to work on the marriage. It's not something to be entered into lightly, but if you're gonna make the decision, gather the information. You know, we, in dividing the assets, oftentimes we'll work with you or another financial advisor to help look at each asset and help make sure that however things are going to be divided, that the tax consequences and things are going to be equitable as well. And so I think a big mistake I see is people coming in who do it on their own without understanding the consequences of what they've agreed to. And so, the other thing is to stay or to go, I see a lot of people who are like, we're not in any hurry, so they enter into mediations and things without lawyers, and they're a dozen mediation sessions in and they've sort of made all these concessions before they realize, oh, this wasn't a good deal for me and I didn't understand that, until they've already spent a lot of money and things on that. So I would always say the first thing is like, talk to a lawyer and get your arms around the assets so you can make an informed decision.

    - It is a complicated process and we give the same advice when it comes to estate planning. We recommend people see you good estate planning attorneys who are knowledgeable about the laws, and wills, and trusts, and on the financial issues out there, there are so many investment options, literally tens of thousands of investment choices to choose from and to try and go out there. And even myself, I've been a certified financial planner for 20 years, I do not manage client's assets, I don't even manage my own assets, I rely on the expertise of others who are focused on it every day and who have the depth of knowledge. I'm knowledgeable, but I'm busy, and so I'm doing what I do today and in other areas, and so yes, there is a time and a place to get good counsel and good advice. So we've talked about the children and we've talked about finance, so property, I think is the last thing, which has to be a very, again, just equally important as far as what assets do you own? That might be business holdings, that might be a beach house that has strong emotional connections to maybe both parties, their home that they've lived in could be for 10, 20, 30 years in some cases. That has to be a very difficult issue to address.

    - It can be, especially because a lot of people have emotional ties to some of these assets, especially houses and beach houses that are not necessarily grounded in what is financially prudent for them. And so that is a very hard piece, but there are things that if you are considering divorce, you come in early on, and while you're making the decision, there are things you can do to make sure that you're protected. So understanding, and maybe if you have personal debts, because for example, as I shared in Maryland, you can't allocate those, maybe using some of that property to pay those off depending on what the debts are and the situation, might be an option to better your financial position. Changing around assets. A big example I like to share is life insurance. So, there's a lot of different kinds of life insurance and sort of the two popular types are term and whole life. And so, term is the concept, it's a term of years and that the policy is in place, and you're paying a monthly premium, but there's no usual cash value to it. If you don't make the payment, the policy lapses, whatever you've paid in is gone, versus whole life, which is usually there for your whole life or for a long, long period, but at the end of the day, as you're paying in, cash is accumulating in it. And what the courts say that they can do with life insurance is if there's a cash balance it can be considered in the equitable division of assets, but if it's a term policy, they can't do anything. So they can't provide or protect you by saying, oh yes, your spouse has to maintain life insurance for your benefit and vice versa. And so, some things to think about if someone comes to me is, okay, what am I gonna do? You know, what life insurance do you have? Is that, especially, if you're not the moneyed spouse, isn't that something you'll need even if you're getting alimony? Because alimony ends upon the death of either party or your remarriage, so maybe you guys should get some life insurance and maybe rather than like him owning the policy on his life and you owning the policy on your life, like you should own the policies on each other. And that way, if you get divorced, you still own that policy. Sure, then you have to pay for it, but if they owned it, how do you know they don't change the beneficiary even if they agree not to? So there are things coming early on, there are steps that can be taken to better your financial position as it relates to your property if you come early on and speak to a lawyer.

    - I find as we do these Discussion Series, that there is a common theme and it is preparation, being proactive, trying to get ahead of things a little bit. With Mark Ash we talked about transitioning from a hospital to with a client, and a huge discussion there was having conversations before we get to that point, having the right legal documents, the medical advanced directives. In financial planning or estate planning, a lot of it is about preparing and with our question today, to stay or to go, a lot of it is preparation, having the knowledge, working with a professional like you or another family lawyer, to really gain knowledge and understanding about where an individual stands, what their options are, what adjustments might they make to better position themselves. Does it make sense to wait? You might advise the client saying right now, based on these factors, leaving now compared to leaving a year from now could be significantly different. Maybe if you can, stay, or the opposite, leaving now might be significantly better for you than waiting a year based on the information. So it comes down to gaining information so you can make a fully informed decision about what your options are, and hopefully, that will help you make the right decision as you reach that fork in the road that many individuals reach. Do you stay or do you go?

    - Yes, and if you decide like, not ready, I wanna get divorced, but I wanna wait, even if maybe it looks like that's not what's financially best for you, maybe seeing if your spouse is amenable to some sort of postnuptial agreement could give you protections, and we do those all the time. I can give you some of those protections while you're still staying in the marriage. That's an option to consider, although it's gonna take that your spouse is on board with that as well.

    - Yeah. Thank you, Erin. We have covered a lot and so thank you so much for your time today. It has been, hopefully the individuals watching the program have gained some insight. Our contact information will be posted at the end of today's program, so clients are free to reach out to either one of us if they have questions, but I just wanted to thank you for your time today and for sharing your knowledge, and I hope you and your family remain safe during these difficult times. And I'm just gonna make a few closing statements, but before I leave, are there any closing remarks that you would like to make?

    - Well, yes, first, thank you, Phil, for having me. It's been wonderful to get to speak with you more about this. I think the big takeaways are one, if you're the moneyed spouse, making a decision sooner than later is important because you may be better off getting your divorce sooner than later if that's what you've decided you wanna do. I think that also, if there's a lot of parental conflict, something to consider is the long-term effects on your children, so not just knowing your own family, but also making sure to read the literature out there about the effects of divorce. And finally, figuring, you know, talking to a lawyer to find out what your risks are and ways to mitigate them since every case is different, or you know, three big things to consider if you know you're headed for divorce and just can't decide when is the right time.

    - Well, that's wonderful. Well, thank you so much, and we'll touch base in the future as we continue to cross paths, but once again, thank you for joining us and sharing the information today, Erin.

    - Thank you.

    - And to the audience today, thank you for joining our program. My name's Phil Fish with Sandy Spring Trust. If you notice when you clicked on to view our program today, there was no registration. You did not have to provide your name, your phone number, your email. We provide this Discussion Series as a educational format, open to the general public. For those of you who bank with Sandy Spring Bank, thank you. We just celebrated our 153rd birthday. So we were founded in April of 1868. One the proud things is when we opened our doors, we, and our bank charter stated that we would accept deposits, and make loans, and do business with anyone. We did not have any restrictions. And back then in 1868, a lot of banks did restrict who they chose to do business with. We did not. And for the past 153 years, we've stood by our client's side, helping them navigate through difficult times as we've been doing this past year with COVID and the other challenges that we face. So if you bank with us, thank you for banking with Sandy Spring Bank. If you don't bank with us, we'd love for you to think about us if you ever need any services. Please share the information about this program with others, with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, locally, and around the country, and we hope you enjoyed today's program, and we hope he might join us for others as we continue to add discussions onto our site. So on behalf of Sandy Spring Bank, thank you for joining us today. Take care and have a wonderful rest of your day.

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