There are so many unknowns when you are a facing a divorce.  Being scared about money, specifically about not having enough money, is a very real fear for families.  The best way to ease this fear is to hire the right professionals. Have them educate you and to give you your power back.  I am going to share with you my perspective on the five top reasons to use a neutral financial specialist (CDFA) at the beginning of your divorce process.

  1.  A Neutral Financial Specialist will save you both money – both short and long term.  You want the best team to help you through your divorce. Your team will maximize your outcome, preserve your marital estate and help you collaboratively find the best solutions for your family.  Working with a neutral CDFA at the very beginning of your divorce process will help you gather required documentation and information, increase your understanding of your income and your assets and help to determine your cash flow needs.  All at a much lower hourly rate than an attorney.
  2. Working with a neutral CDFA can help you stay out of court – and create your own solutions.  The biggest hurdle people face when contemplating divorce, aside from navigating co-parenting, is understanding their marital estate and their finances.  It is often the case that one spouse has handled all of the finances while the other spouse has taken on other important aspects of their family life.  This leaves one spouse at a discernible disadvantage.  Having a neutral CDFA can help both parties organize and understand their finances. This allows them to find the best solutions to ensure that they will both walk into this next phase of their lives in as strong a financial position as possible.  At the end of the day, people want to know that financially they are going to be alright. 
  3. Taking advantage of a neutral CDFA’ services will help you keep the focus on what’s best for your children – less stress about money will make you better co-parents.  For most families going through a divorce leads to a great deal of anxiety. How you are going to manage two households when you were stretched maintaining one?  Having a neutral CDFA take a hard, honest look at your respective budgets and the needs of your children can help you both determine the best path forward for your family.   
  4. A neutral CDFA can help educate you about complicated assets – and help you evaluate them appropriately.  If there are privately held investments or business interests for example, understanding the asset’s value, risks and limitations in division, will help couples in determining how best to allocate such assets.  If you have a business that needs to be valued, stock options that need to be divided, or any other type of asset to contend with, having someone who can point you in the right direction is critical.
  5. Having a neutral CDFA on your team can help you plan for college and retirement – two of the biggest worries for couples after the immediate cash flow worries, are (a) can we still afford to help our children with college expenses and (b) do we have to continue working for forever.  A financial specialist can help you navigate these two issues taking into consideration your existing college savings and retirement savings to educate you both as to your options. 

The more information and understanding you have about your finances and your options, the better able you both will be to create the best post-divorce life for yourselves. Search for Certified Divorce Financial Analysts on the Find a Professional page.

Lissa Rapoport is an attorney and mediator practicing in Marin and San Francisco Counties.  More information in her bio on the “Find A Professional” page.