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Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®

Our Services

Our Services

We know that your decisions during this divorce can have a far-reaching impact on you and your family's future. Right from the start, we are here for you! We stay involved throughout the process to simplify complex issues and ease your concerns. Unlike others, we focus exclusively on your personal financial needs and well-being as we work closely with your attorney to find a favorable settlement. As board Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® (CDFA), Certified Financial Planner™, Certified College Funding Specialist®, and Certified Kingdom Advisor®, I know the unique needs and aspects of divorce that most don't. 

You need more than just a competent advisor!

My Heart, My Mission

I am for you and your marriage. Yet,  I also know there are times when a marriage is “irretrievably broken” with no chance for reconciliation. At that point, you need someone who can help navigate you financially as your attorney navigates the legal aspects of divorce.  May my knowledge, skills, and licenses in investments, insurance, and mortgage lending give you the peace of mind that you have selected the right person to equip you for the next phase of your life. Upon your request, I can also act as a Certified Kingdom Advisor® professional to guide you from a Biblical perspective. I will use my comprehensive pastoral training to be your own personal financial pastor. My wife Anissa and I are both graduates of the OCL program. We have been specially trained to use questions and listening strategies to transform relationships through the power of empathetic engagement and conflict resolution techniques with a compassionate perspective. By understanding the four main personality types, we communicate with the style that best speaks to you. We use their relational tools to encourage and enhance human connection, care, and compassion to rise above indifference and prejudice. Besides providing emotional relief, we also provide hope and clarity through our financial analysis. With our help, you will gain great insight and understanding into the financial impact of your choices. Working with us frees up your attorney to concentrate on what they do best (law), allowing you to focus on what is most important to you.

We are here to help you avoid common mistakes like:

  • Negotiating to retain the marital home when the client cannot afford it
  • Not obtaining complete information on all retirement plans, employee benefits, and stock options
  • Not evaluating the defined benefit pension plan correctly
  • Thinking that retirement assets have the same value as an equal dollar amount of non-retirement assets
  • Not understanding the different division methods of a retirement asset and not knowing which one is in your client’s best interest
  • Not understanding the purpose of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or the need to get it completed and filed at the time of the divorce or immediately after the divorce is final
  • Not looking at the long-term impact of a financial settlement
  • Failure to factor in inflation and investment returns when looking at the long-term impact of a settlement or using unrealistic numbers in the evaluation
  • Not being aware that it is possible to take a distribution from a retirement plan before age 59 1/2 and avoid the 10% penalty
  • Not protecting the survivor benefits for the non-employee spouse
  • Not protecting spousal and child support payments through life insurance
  • Not understanding the importance of making the spouse who receives the spousal and child support payments the owner of a life insurance contract
  • Improperly structuring spousal or child support payments
  • Using a QDRO to try to divide an IRA
  • Making isolated financial decisions versus looking at the big picture and analyzing how each financial decision impacts other decisions
  • Not taking into account transaction costs when evaluating a settlement offer
  • Failing to understand the tax implications of alimony payments versus child support payments in pre-2019 divorces
  • Believing that a 50/50 division of property is an equitable division of property
  • Not understanding methods or tax implications of dividing stock options
  • Failing to consider the cost basis of property
  • Not understanding the capital gain taxes upon the sale of the marital home or how the sale can impact each party
  • Not understanding how to divide debt
  • Not taking into account the effect of deferred taxes when dividing the assets

Here is a perfect example: After his divorce, David went to a financial advisor (not a CDFA® Professional) to determine how to best position his assets. David and his planner decided to do a complete financial plan for him. During the planning session, it became apparent that his wife had done all of the investing during his marriage. She chose all the investments, made all the decisions, and invested all the money.

She said at the time of their divorce, “Let’s just split everything 50/50. You take this half of the assets, and I will take that half. Is that OK?” David answered, “Well, I guess that sounds pretty fair. That’s OK with me.”

Unfortunately, there was something he neither knew nor understood; neither did his lawyer, and neither did the judge. They didn’t realize that David would have to pay taxes on his half of the assets when he tried to access them. On the other hand, his ex-wife could access her half of the assets tax-free. His 50/50 split was more like 30/70. Had David met with a CDFA® professional before the divorce was finalized, he would have been better positioned to ask for a more equitable settlement.

This parable has an unfortunate ending, but pre-divorce financial counseling can help people thinking about or going through a divorce arrive at a settlement that is fully understood by all involved.

Who do people turn to for such assistance? When people think about getting a divorce, a lawyer is the first professional that comes to mind. Typically a financial advisor—whether a CPA, CFP®, or a CDFA® professional—is not considered until later in the divorce process—or even until after the divorce is final.

Our CDFA® Professional and Master Financial Coach® are vital for those working on divorce prevention or divorce preparation. Financial problems can tear a marriage apart and are often the primary factor that leads to divorce. Once a decision to separate or divorce has been reached, many questions bubble to the surface. These questions are often clouded by wounded emotions and accompanied by mutual accusations, which is no surprise. Suppose a couple cannot solve their financial difficulties while the marriage was underway. In that case, it is unlikely that they will be able to agree on pressing financial issues when it has fallen apart.

Many divorcing couples have questions such as:

  • Where will the children live?
  • Who will pay for their education and medical treatment?
  • How do we value our property?
  • Who gets what property?
  • What tax issues must we be concerned with?
  • How do we divide retirement funds and pensions?
  • How will the lower-earning spouse survive financially?
  • What additional financial support does that person need?
  • Who gets the house?
  • What happens if a paying ex-spouse dies?

These are the questions that family law lawyers face with each divorce case. Many lawyers struggle with the intricate financial details concerning tax issues, capital gains, dividing pensions, etc. Lawyers attend law school to become experts in the law, not to become financial experts. Additionally, even if lawyers have accumulated a degree of financial expertise, they are not allowed to testify on behalf of their clients in court. This is why more and more lawyers have seen the virtue of bringing a financial expert into the divorce process at the very start. Reliable information and expert analysis are essential in their search for the best possible resolutions for their clients. Fortunately, with the advent of CDFA® professionals, help is on the way

What Is our CDFA® Professional’s Role?

To understand this role, we must first distinguish between a CDFA® professional and other financial experts who go by various titles, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®).

Financial Planners Help Clients Achieve Goals

The role of the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) is to help people achieve their financial goals regardless of whether they are divorcing or happily married. After identifying those goals, the next step is to take an inventory of the client’s current assets and liabilities, then examine what must be done to achieve those goals. Some goals might be reached within a year; others could be realized 50 years later. To look that far into the future, certain assumptions must be made. These include income, expenses, inflation rates, interest rates, and rates of return on investments. After these assumptions are settled on and adjusted for changes, the scenario must be reviewed regularly. If, during the review process, the planner determines that the client is not on track, they will recommend several necessary or advisable fine-tunings. In other words, the financial planner looks at financial results in the future based on certain assumptions made today and keeps the client moving toward stated objectives.

Accountants Examine Details for Present Day

Conversely, accountants (CPAs) typically confine themselves to examining the details of a present-day scenario. If called upon to participate in a divorce proceeding, they might calculate the taxes on dividing property combined with the effect of child support and spousal support over a very short period of time. They typically do not project further into the future. They also may be retained to audit account activity or perform forensic accounting functions to help uncover “hidden assets."

CDFA® Professionals’ Responsibilities and the Team Approach

To best meet the needs of a divorcing client, a blend of these two ideologies is needed. To complete this need, a new professional designation was created—the CDFA® professional. The role of our CDFA® professional is to help both you and your lawyer fully understand how the financial decisions made today will impact your financial future based on certain assumptions.

Our CDFA® professional comes from a financial planning background and has undergone an intensive training program to become skilled in analyzing and providing expertise related to the financial issues of divorce.

Our CDFA® professional:

Become part of the divorce team, providing litigation support for the lawyer and client, or become a Collaborative Law team member. In either event, the CDFA professional will be responsible for the following:

  • Identifying the short- and long-term effects of dividing property
  • Integrating tax issues
  • Analyzing pension and retirement plan issues
  • Determining if you can afford the matrimonial home—and if not, what might be an affordable alternative
  • Evaluating your insurance needs
  • Establishing assumptions for projecting inflation and rates of return
  • Bringing an innovative and creative approach to settling cases

Our CDFA® professional also:

  • Provides you and your lawyer with data that shows the financial effect of any given divorce settlement
  • Appears as an expert witness if the case should go to court or in mediation or arbitration proceedings
  • Is familiar with tax issues that apply to divorce
  • Has background knowledge of the legal issues in divorce
  • Is trained to interview you to:
    • Collect financial and expense data
    • Help you identify your future financial goals
    • Develop a budget
    • Set retirement objectives
    • Identify what kind of lifestyle they want and can afford
    • Determine the costs of their children’s education

What a CDFA® Professional is Not...

  • Attorney. The CDFA professional cannot provide legal advice. Their role is to assist the attorney with financial issues related to the divorce—not to replace the attorney. The CDFA professional should always recommend, if not require, that any client hire legal counsel. Clients must seek their own legal counsel to ensure their interests are appropriately represented.
  • Business appraiser. The CDFA professional is not qualified to conduct a business appraisal. They may work with a business appraiser to collect data required to prepare the appraisal and use the appraised value in their analysis. Still, only a trained appraiser can value a business.
  • Pension valuator. As a CDFA professional, you will learn how to prepare pension estimates. However, designing an accurate pension valuation requires the use of an actuary.
  • Actuary. As a CDFA professional, you must understand many actuarial concepts and how to use actuarial tables, but the CDFA designation does not make you an actuary.
  • CPA/tax preparer. As a CDFA professional, you will review many tax issues related to the client’s financial situation, but the CDFA designation does not make you a CPA or tax preparer.
  • Mediator. Most states require specific training and experience to be qualified as a divorce or family law mediator. You may, however, be hired by the divorcing couple to serve as a financial expert in the mediation process.

What a CDFA® Professional CanNOT Say...

Only your attorney or judge can provide legal advice, like what you “should” do. Thus, I canNOT say... “You should ask for more alimony,” “You should sell the house,” or “You should take the 401k account because…”. What I can say is the cause and effect information, “If you were to get more alimony, this would be the financial result,” “If you were to sell your house, this would be the estimate capital gains tax,” or “If you were to take the 401k account, this would be the financial result.” As your CDFA professional, my role is to the take information you and your attorney provided to analyze proposals and show the financial results of different options. We canNOT say, “We help our clients achieve an equitable settlement,” or “I will help you get adequate maintenance," for only judges can legally decide what is equitable and adequate. What I can say is, "We help you and your attorney in achieving a financially fair settlement,” or “We examine the financial issues of your divorce and provide you and your attorney with powerful data to help support your case.” My role ultimately helps my client understand the immediate and long-term financial impact of each settlement choice.

Can I Provide Other Advisory Services Too?

You may want to hire me as Certified Financial Planner™, investment advisor, insurance agent, and mortgage officer who assists you and your attorney in the divorce settlement using my knowledge and resources as a CDFA® Professional. The attorneys or judge have to be notified that I am acting in the official capacity of a Certified Financial Planner™, not as CDFA® Professional. There are significant potential savings in doing so. Because I am making money from managing your assets, it encourages me to do all I can to keep those investments from going to your spouse. As a result, it is potentially a conflict of interest.

Suppose you hire me solely to act as CDFA® Professional but also want to work with a new advisor other than your spouse's advisor. Then I can refer you to an advisor at my Broker Dealer to work with you. After your divorce is finalized, you will receive a letter informing you that we have completed our duties as a CDFA® Professional. You are eligible to request me to be your investment advisor. Most people find working with me beneficial because I already understand your needs and financial situation. Divorce is a very disruptive process; continuing working with me in a trusted advisory relationship provides stability to you when you need it the most.

If you and your spouse are current financial planning clients and you want to find out the financial impact of dividing assets. Since both of you are my planning clients, I must provide the same information to you and your spouse.