Why I Became A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

Back in 2010 I stumbled across an article while reading a financial industry periodical. It caught my attention because it had the word Divorce in the title. At that time, I was still recovering from myself from my own 17 year marriage ending in devastating fashion so naturally I read it. The piece was written by a financial advisor who had earned a rather new and obscure designation (at least to me) called Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. He described how he worked with divorcing clients and their legal counsel to devise proper and equitable divorce settlements.

Intrigued, I searched for the organization offering the designation and spent the next couple of hours on the “Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts” website. I found that the institute offers a self-study course with books and on-line resources for professionals interested in learning the laws, processes and specialized skills necessary to craft settlements with financial outcomes in mind. I ordered the materials and spent the next 18 months studying and testing through the 5 modules. I completed the final exam, received the certificate and began offering divorce planning services in addition to our core financial planning and retirement planning services.

Although the CDFA designation continues to grow in recognition, most people that I talk to still don’t know anything about it. Even lawyers, mediators and judges in my area aren’t well informed. But in these few short years since earning the title myself I have felt great personal satisfaction in knowing that our work (my team and me) has been instrumental in the successful outcome of many divorce settlements.

In my first mediation with a client, the other professionals in the room had no idea as to the contributions a CDFA could offer. In less than an hour however, they seemed pleasantly surprised and perhaps even amazed at the detail, exactness, and financial knowledge that we brought to the table. In my opinion, this illustrates perfectly why the financial professional (CDFA) can and should be a key component of any divorce in which financial assets and income streams are at stake. I believe I was able to help in ways that the attorneys, mediator and other professionals could not and at that moment I knew that the CDFA designation carried a lot of weight.

Going through a divorce is difficult. It can be emotionally draining, cause stress that can lead to physical ailments and push us into darkness and depression. From my experience, 75-80% of divorces are heated and ugly. Fighting over money, personal items and children prolongs the pain for everyone- especially the children. I have found that our clients take great comfort in the resolutions we help them construct and therefore, much of the anger dissipates. Our divorce financial plans help cut through the fog of financial uncertainty. This in turn can give people the mindfulness necessary to lay down their swords, consider options rationally and take the first steps toward the next chapter in their lives.

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