As Certified Financial Divorce Analysts, a large part of our job involves working directly with a client’s attorney. While most of the time this benefits both parties, there are certainly times when there may be a little push and shove between a divorce attorney and a CDFA®.
While a divorce lawyer is responsible for the division of assets and debt among spouses, the role of the CDFA® is to assist the client and her lawyer in understanding how the financial decisions made today will impact the client’s financial future.
WHAT ATTORNEYS HATE ABOUT CDFA’S
While your Divorce Attorney and CDFA® will work together harmoniously most of the time, there will be days where there might be a little tension. Most of that, we promise, is because your CDFA® will unearth every little detail while your divorce attorney might want to simplify the process because they don’t want to be challenged.
Additionally, they might not have the extra time, effort, or energy to fit those small, but important, details into their billable hours, so they don’t. Part of being a CDFA® is really looking not just at a client’s financial present, but their future.
The ramifications of the settlement of assets and properties, and what that will look like five, 10, 20 years down the road for each ex-spouse, weighs heavily on us. Plus, divorce is stressful enough! You shouldn’t be feeling like you are one of many.
For example, the husband of one of our clients worked for GE. During the period he worked there, he had a pension. He told his attorney he didn’t have one, but upon further questioning and a little push back on our end, GE confirmed he had a pension and we had to make an amendment to the martial settlement agreement (MSA), which had already been written. The result was $120,000 in retirement (guaranteed) for our client.
Your finances are important and should never fall under the category of “too busy.” When you are in the middle of a divorce, your team needs to show up for you. Your MSA should be specific and written in the interest of BOTH parties.
“It’s really easy to put everything on paper, and at first glance say, “OK, we just divide it down the middle.” But then, there might be nuances to that and it’s our job to make sure that it’s a fair and equitable division of finances. ”
WHAT ATTORNEYS LOVE
Um, is there anything NOT to love? Alright, joking aside…we can be stubborn sometimes, sure, but in a good way!
Depending on the state you live in, the financial affidavit varies, so we try to look at everything—especially the things that people might forget; business valuations, properties, pension plans.
It’s really easy to put everything on paper, and at first glance say, “OK, we just divide it down the middle.” But then, there might be nuances to that and it’s our job to make sure that it’s a fair and equitable division of finances.
Under the best of circumstances, gathering financial information is complex, tedious, and fraught with emotion. A CDFA® offers a neutral, calm, and supportive environment for finances to be discussed and finessed.
They also help attorneys by:
- Creating reports to work with that move the case along more quickly
- Running reports that show the effect of different settlement options
- Helping guide clients by offering financial strategies and a reality check
- Working to shine a light on, organize, and help couples understand their assets, financial issues, and the impacts of their decisions, both short and long term
- Empowering women to get unstuck because they understand their options and finally have the clarity to make good decisions
A lot of the times attorneys love that we are there because if someone comes in and says, “I want the house and the car and I want this much money annually,” we can show them the numbers and what that actually looks like financially. Our job is not about competing with an attorney. Rather, it’s partnering with people who believe in a team and a system.
A CFDA® offers so much value to any divorce process. While there is so much more that needs to be done when helping women thrive financially, we feel so privileged to be in the position to help women make strategic, winning moves in regard to their financial future.
To learn more about how a CDFA® can help you thrive on your post-divorce journey, we encourage you to get in touch or read more on why you need one if you’re going through a divorce.