Getting Through A Divorce With Your Finances Intact

Get Through Divorce with Your Finances Intact
by Michelle Mabry

 

It has been said that half of all marriages end in divorce. No one gets married expecting to divorce. When a divorce happens, it has a shattering effect on all areas of a person’s life, including their financial stability.  I am seeing a trend of more people(most often women) seeking financial advice, because of a divorce.They are totally unprepared to handle financial issues, since they’ve had very little experience.  Even those people who are educated in financial matters can benefit from the help of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA).

 

I have started working to obtain this designation as I have seen a growing need for this type of financial advice. I have had the opportunity to assist several women over the last year in coming up with a property settlement that is fair and that gives them financial peace of mind.  We work in many different roleswith clients and their lawyers:

  • Strategist/Litigation Support
  • Financial Expert
  • Data Collector/Budget Preparer
  • Managing Expectations
  • Evidence Presenter

 

At any point in the process, we may play any one or all of the roles depending on where the client is in the divorce process.

 

Strategist/Litigation Support: Before the case is even filed, we can serve as a strategist in the litigation process. The lawyer needs to know the financial implications for different divorce settlements. Once we prepare this analysis, the attorney will have the ammunition he/she needs to negotiate the most advantageous settlement for the client.

 

Financial Expert:We review and provide input on investment data, retirement plans, benefit programs, business records, tax returns and all other financial data.

 

Data Collector/Budget Preparer: We help our clients collect data to prepare the financial affidavit (8.05) and pre and post divorce budgets.

 

Expectations Manager: Many clients come in with unrealistic expectations and sometimes need a reality check. Occasionally, they are overwhelmed with fear that they will have nothing and starve.  A complete financial analysis, which includes all  the possible outcomes, helps our clients have realistic expectations about their future.

 

Evidence Presenter: In meetings with our client and his/her attorney or the spouse and his/her attorney; in mediation sessions; in arbitration hearings or the trial; we are often asked to present evidence to show the financial impact of different settlement options or information related to financial, tax, investment or retirement plan issues.

In a recent case, I worked with a client to help their attorney better understand the tax issues of dividing property andthe present value of the pension. I also helped the client determine if they could afford to stay in the marital home.  We were able to provide the client with data that showed the financial effect of any given divorce settlement.Initially, this was a case that the attorney was sure would end up in court; however, with thoughtful preparation of all the pertinent financial data and potential outcomes, the case was settled in mediation, leaving my client with total financial peace.

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