Financial Advisors & CDFA in California divorce

I met with a financial advisor today, and he has the designation of being a CDFA, or “Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.” He is an expert with working with people who are divorced, getting a divorce, or thinking about it. I am a really big proponent of getting the help you need in divorce. It’s not easy and there are just so many mistakes you can make – and avoid – by getting good help.

The more I think about it, the more I think that it’s critical for someone who is divorcing to have the support of a financial advisor. Take the situation when you’re dividing accounts. Say you have an account with Schwab and an account with another broker. They each have roughly the same amount of money in them, so you and your soon-to-be-ex decide to each take one account. But does anyone look at the projections for the accounts? What if one account is doing poorly and one is doing really well? Attorneys aren’t trained to make those kinds of evaluations. This is a reason to see a financial advisor – especially a CDFA – if you’re getting a divorce, or even thinking about it.

Another reason: Generally, I saw in my practice that in most couples, one spouse was ‘in charge’ of the money in the relationship. They handled the bills and expenses, did the taxes, and dealt with the CPA or financial advisor. Often, the other spouse had not a clue what the couple had, leaving the decisions up to the other. While this is (I think) a reasonable marital division of labor, it causes big problems for the spouse in the dark when the issue of divorce comes up. Suddenly the spouse who doesn’t know anything has to take a crash course in finances, household budgets, and the like. He or she also probably wants nothing to do with the couple’s advisors, as they’re likely to go with the person they’ve been dealing with all along. This is where a financial advisor can mean the difference between struggling and flourishing.

Finally, and you may know this about me, I am a planner. I do estate planning and feel it’s absolutely essential that EVERYONE has an estate plan – SOME kind of plan – and if they have children or a house, it becomes urgent. But that’s another story and another blog. The same is true for financial planning. Right now, you’re at Point A in your life. At some point, you want to get to Point B. How are you going to do that, financially? What if you don’t even know what your Point B looks like? You find these answers by utilizing the help that’s around you, and in this case, it’s a financial advisor.

I am spending some time in the next few weeks talking to several CDFAs, and I’ll pass along the pearls of wisdom I learn. I meet with them so that I can feel comfortable referring my clients to them.


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