Finance

Financial Planning and Divorce

Unlikely pair goes together

When most people make the painful decision to pursue divorce proceedings, the first professional they hire is an attorney. However, engaging a financial advisor with divorce expertise early on can make a significant difference in achieving a favorable outcome.

Only 35 percent of women surveyed by wealth management firm Francis Financial consulted a financial professional during their divorce. However, 64 percent said they believe a financial advisor would have been helpful. The Financial Planning Institute stated 2.2 million people in the United States divorce each year – and 100 percent of proceedings include a financial settlement.

“There are so many nuances that are different from traditional financial planning,” according to Meredith Dekker ChFC®, CDFA®, ADFA®, president and senior advisor at Dekker Divorce Financial Counseling. “Rules vary by state on such topics as community property versus separate property, spousal support, and child support. The Institute for Divorce Financial Advisors created the Certified Divorce Financial Advisor (CDFA) designation to help advisors understand those nuances and better support their clients,” she said.

There are three major areas where Dekker helps clients. The first is ensuring a fair and equitable division of the couple’s assets. Second is cash flow: making sure clients will have enough money to support themselves. The third is providing emotional support.

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For men and women alike, making a budget for life after divorce can be a dilemma.

“They know what their bills are right now,” Dekker said, “but how do you make a budget after that?”

She has them research expenses, such as how much leasing an apartment costs. Spouses who have been out of the workforce may also need to acquire new job skills.
Developing a budget also has importance beyond client education. Financial advisors can testify during divorce proceedings. As an expert witness, Dekker must be able to defend a budget as being realistic.

In many marriages, one partner deals with all the finances. If the client is not the person who handled the money, they need “the security of knowing that the settlement they agree on is going to help them move forward,” Dekker said. On the other hand, her client may be the higher earner in the family and feel they are giving up some of their benefits. “So, you help them go through this emotional separation of the finances, which is very important.”

divorce button 500x470Dekker also educates other professionals involved, such as attorneys who may be unaware of changing laws, and mediators. For example, when the federal tax deduction for alimony payments was eliminated in 2019, she spent considerable time educating lawyers who did not grasp how the law would impact spousal support agreements.

“When you’re working with a CDFA, they look at finances with a different mindset than a financial advisor,” Dekker said, who also has non-divorce clients.

For a divorcing spouse meeting with a financial advisor for the first time, Dekker suggested asking the person how they differ from a CDFA.

“If the answer is there’s really not any difference,” she said, “that’s probably not the person you need to be working with.”

For more information on Dekker Divorce Financial Consulting, visit: dekkerfinancial.com.

 

 

When most people make the painful decision to pursue divorce proceedings, the first professional they hire is an attorney. However, engaging a financial advisor with divorce expertise

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