You didn’t get married alone, don’t struggle through divorce alone.
Assemble Your Divorce Team for a Better Future
In the process of untying the marital knot you’ll face critical financial and personal decisions that will impact the rest of your life. There are situations where you may require the services of financial, tax, mental health, and co-parenting specialists for additional support.
Not sure where to get started?
Below is a list of professionals to guide you through the divorce process and a description of their services. Paying for help from the right people will save you money in the long run. Assemble your divorce team to help you cross the finish line!
Divorce Pathways, from least to most expensive
The path forward depends upon the parties’ willingness to negotiate the best possible outcomes for all involved. If amicable and straightforward, then your choices are different than if combative. A divorce that starts out easy may not stay that way, so best to consider all options.
Pro Se Divorce (aka Do It Yourself Divorce)
The least expensive option where generally agreeable couples complete and file the required paperwork without legal assistance, pay any appropriate court fees and attend a court hearing to finalize their divorce. Start by calling your county clerk.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution where spouses select a neutral third party to help them reach a mutually acceptable settlement. Mediators cannot provide legal advice, although many are attorneys.
Each spouse hires an attorney to represent their interests to reach a fair settlement without going to court. If an agreement cannot be reached, the next step is to start over with new attorneys to go through a litigated divorce.
Each spouse hires a litigation attorney to represent their interests before a judge, who will resolve issues that the parties can’t agree upon. Divorce litigation requires many court filings and appearances, making it the longest and most expensive path.
Your due diligence
Your chosen divorce/family law attorney or mediator will quarterback the effort as someone on top of the divorce laws in the state where you reside. That’s why it’s crucial to research your options and interview more than one to find the right fit.
Divorce Professionals and How They Can Help You
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®)
A CDFA® works alongside a divorcing couple and their attorney/mediator to help them understand how the financial decisions they are considering will impact their future in these ways:
- Analyzing pension and retirement plans
- Determining the short-term and long-term effects of dividing property
- Weaving tax concerns into their analyses
- Evaluating the best options for the marital home
- Understanding applicable state laws and nuances during divorce
Many CDFA® practitioners are financial advisors and Certified Financial Planner CFP® professionals.
Certified Divorce Coach (CDC®)
A CDC® supports, motivates, and guides clients who are weighing divorce or are in the early stages of divorce. With empathy and understanding, they provide a safe and judgment-free space to help clients navigate the best possible outcomes for the family. They may be therapists, social workers, mediators, attorneys, and educators.
More specifically they can help you:
- Identify the important first steps of divorce
- Create co-parenting plans
- Minimize conflict to improve the chances of an amicable divorce
- Feel empowered to effectively communicate your needs and wants without being hijacked by your emotions
- Develop a strategic roadmap for divorce
Real Estate Collaboration Specialist (RCS-D™)
Property division in a divorce can get downright messy. Since the marital home is typically your largest asset, doesn’t it make sense to protect your interest in it? Realtors with this designation (held by fewer than 1% of licensed realtors) assist divorcing homeowners in these ways:
- Gather the necessary documents to determine the true value of the home
- Understand options for keeping or selling the home
- Protect your credit and home ownership eligibility status
- Confirm the property has a clear title and no undisclosed judgments and/or liens attached to it
Certified Divorce Lending Professional (CDLP®)
If you’re considering whether to refinance the marital home or sell it to purchase a new home, a CDLP® is your new best friend. They help you cut through the slog of mortgage options to determine the best way forward. Benefits of working with a CDLP® include:
- Your awareness of the tax implications of selling the home prior to or after divorce
- Qualifying income requirements
- Customized mortgage solutions based on a clear understanding of your financial situation
- Your home ownership rights
- Risks associated with either spouse remaining on the existing mortgage
Financial or Money Coach (aka me!)
A personal financial expert who helps you understand your relationship with money and the money habits that may prevent you from feeling in control.
For us ladies, it’s often easier to avoid money discussions and let spouses take the lead.....until a major life transition like divorce occurs and you’re on your own.
A money coach can:
- Address your financial overwhelm and money stressing triggers
- Show you how all of the financial puzzle pieces fit together
- Create an action plan based on your goals and values
- Build a sustainable foundation for your long-term financial well-being
The AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor) designation is considered the gold standard in the counselor/coaching profession. Learn more about AFCPE
Financial therapy is a relatively new field that combines therapy with complex emotional issues related to deep money fears and traumas. Licensed therapists address:
- Compulsive spending or saving habits
- Gambling addiction
- Financial abuse and manipulation by a narcissistic spouse
- Persistent thoughts about money that can lead to depression, anxiety, homelessness and despair
Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)/Financial Advisor
If you’re looking for guidance beyond what a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® may provide while working with your attorney, then this is where you want to be for comprehensive financial planning. A CFP® professional can help divorcing clients in the following ways:
- Explaining tax implications of property and asset division
- Reviewing estate plans and life insurance coverage
- Analyzing complex executive compensation packages
- Developing a strategic plan for your future and retirement
- Explaining differences between your marital and personal property assets
- Retitling investment accounts and updating beneficiaries
- Assessing current and future cash flow needs and much more......
In divorce cases, the court may order a vocational evaluation to determine a fair calculation for spousal and child support. A vocational counselor’s role is to assess the ability of a spouse to return to the workforce and contribute to the future earnings of the post divorce household. This can include both the underemployed spouse and the stay-at-home spouse.
A vocational expert assessment provides a window into:
- A spouse’s real earning potential and employability based on past education and work history
- Prospective job opportunities
- Skill assessment
Attorneys typically bring in a vocational expert when appropriate.
Forensic accounting is a specialized form of accounting that is conducted by an expert to investigate the financial transactions of a person or business. In divorce, the appropriate question to ask yourself is: could my spouse be hiding income or assets to negatively impact the outcome of our divorce settlement?
Here are some financial red flags to watch for:
- Bank or investment accounts that you don’t know about
- Credit opened in your name without your knowledge
- Unreported or under-reported cash income, especially if self-employed
- Delayed bonuses, commissions or salary until after the divorce
- Expensive purchases that can be resold at a later time
Search local listings for forensic accounting firms or CPA offices with forensic accountants on staff.
A professional appraiser may be called upon during divorce proceedings to establish the fair market value of marital assets for equitable distribution between spouses.
What kinds of things could an appraiser look at during your divorce?
- Real estate - homes, land, commercial property
- Business valuation
- Collectibles such as, memorabilia, artwork, antique, coins
- Cars, boats, aircraft, RVs and tools to name a few
When is the best time to get an appraisal? It depends on how quickly your divorce moves along. To avoid having to get a second appraisal if too much time has gone by, it may make sense to wait until after the divorce papers are filed with the court. Ask your legal professional for guidance.
Your Divorce, Your Path
No two divorces are the same. What worked for a friend, family member or colleague may not apply to your situation. But, do learn from others’ mistakes!
Everything is negotiable. Hang in there when the goin’ gets tough. Take a time out to just breathe. When you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, rely on a trusted friend for emotional support.
I hope these resources are helpful to you. I’m happy to chat further to point you in the right direction.