How do you divorce a millionaire—or anybody else, for that matter?

That is a question Lisa Zeiderman confronts often.

Ziederman is a divorce attorney with Miller Zeiderman, a New York City-based law firm, and a certified divorce financial analyst who works with people facing divorce. The cases involve millionaires and people of other wealth levels, but the more money involved the more complicated the divorce can be. Many times she has faced clients, both women and men, who are ill-prepared financially to leave their spouse, she said in an interview yesterday.

A financial advisor or an attorney can help in these situations because there are warning signs they can watch for, before a marriage hits the rocks that indicate one partner may not be financially prepared for a split, she said. Those who are unprepared often leave money on the table, she added.

“The biggest issue a financial advisor or lawyer confronts before a divorce is making sure neither spouse has all of the power over the money,” Zeiderman said. “If the husband or wife is saying the other spouse doesn’t care about finances and does not need to know what is going on, that is a warning sign that one spouse may not be dealing in good faith.”

Once a divorce proceeding has been initiated, “the courts are supposed to make sure there is a level playing field for both members of the couple, but it does not always work out that way. Lawyers and financial advisors, in many instances, can help by doing divorce pre-planning,” she said.

A financial advisor who is acting as a true fiduciary for a couple may even want to suggest one of the people in the partnership get his or her own advisor when red flags pop.

“It can get to be a difficult situation for the advisor if the husband or wife wants control of the family money,” she explained. When on partner eliminates access to the family money, it can leave the other partner without the power to negotiate in a divorce, she said.

“I’ve seen women from wealthy families that end up without the means to even hire an attorney for the divorce,” Zeiderman said. “They end up settling for less than they should. In some cases only one spouse is earning money, so the partner doesn’t even have a way to recoup losses.”

Also as a part of the financial planning, both spouses need to include the tax consequences of their changing situation when they are negotiating a divorce, she said.

“It is crucial to consider taxes when you value and divide these assets. In addition, too many divorcing spouses leave money on the negotiation table because their team of experts does not advise them properly about the tax consequences of exercising stock options,” she said.

Zeiderman said she has seen clients try to control money by putting it into trusts “for the children,” which might seem to make sense, but is really just a way to squeeze out the spouse. “I’ve seen people move money to a trust and then immediately file for divorce,” she said.

She warned that being the breadwinner is not necessarily enough protection. “I’ve seen people turn over the money they earn to the other spouse and lose complete control of it. People need to empower themselves and there needs to be complete transparency in the couple’s finances,” she said.

To help solve these problems, people need a savvy financial advisor, Zeiderman said.

“Advisors should make sure they are talking to both people in a couple. Both people need to understand the finances because marriage is a financial partnership,” she said. “If a husband says the wife does not want or need to know about the finances that is a red flag.”