Editor's Note: This article is part of the Financial Advisor series "How I Solved It." Advisors describe a problem client and what they did to help.

One Sunday evening, Brad L.J. Griswold answered an urgent phone call. A client and his wife were divorcing after 25 years. "I want you in the divorce," the client insisted, meaning he wanted to keep Griswold as his advisor and his alone.

Griswold, a managing partner at Corbenic Partners in Bethlehem, Pa., knew the couple had built a successful business together. They had raised children who were now self-sufficient adults. "Their net worth was both significant and illiquid," Griswold recalled. The phone call had given him pause. "I have to admit to being caught off guard," he acknowledged recently, though, on reflection, he might have seen "indications that things were strained" in the marriage.

He kept calm, maintained a neutral tone. He didn't want to take sides in the divorce dispute. "My goal was to find a solution that worked for everyone," he said. So he arranged a meeting with both spouses together, in his office. There, they discussed the now-grown children's interests. They discussed the business. He tried to hear both sides fairly, with impartiality. "I explained that, after 25 years as their advisor, I was still uniquely qualified to manage through this with them. However, as my loyalty was to them both, I recommended they pursue one of two courses of action."

It wasn't an easy conversation. But he felt compelled to say they should either find new advisors -- and he could refer them to several, and would assist with the transition -- or continue working with him separately, as individual clients. "In the end, they decided to maintain their relationship with our firm, as separate clients," said Griswold.

But this arrangement required clear boundaries -- including separate advisors within the firm for each spouse. "This was the only way to manage through [the divorce] in a way that everyone felt comfortable," he explained.

By keeping the clients at the same firm, Griswold's team was able to provide a degree of continuity and stability, which was particularly important "at a time when the clients' personal lives were in flux," he said.

It was a somewhat unusual, creative solution to an increasingly common problem. Divorce among young couples is one thing, but when it involves couples who have amassed wealth and long-standing relationships with an advisor, it can be a different ballgame.

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