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Financial Professionals Role In Divorce Matters
(provided by Susan A. Moussi, CPA, CFP®, CDFA™, CVA)
Divorce can be an emotionally painful and complicated process. There are many financial challenges associated with ending a marriage and you will be asked to make some very important financial decisions. Some of these decisions may impact your financial well-being for many years after the marriage has ended.
A divorce financial professional will provide valuable information and advice specifically tailored to meet your needs. Here are just a few ways your divorce financial professional can be of value:
Assist in Identifying Your Goals
Discuss, identify, and prioritize your financial goals. While one may not be able to realize all goals, or goals may change over the course of discovery and analysis, this is an important first step. Some goals may be more short-term, like meeting on-going expenses during this process. Others will be more long-term, like what to do with the house.
Assist With or Gather Financial Data
Organization of your financial information is critical in keeping the process efficient. Whether this information is used for court filings or for meetings to negotiate a settlement, it is important to know what you own, what you owe, the sources of income, and the family's expenses. You and your attorney will be working with these facts to develop a plan.
It is important to make informed decisions. Your divorce financial professional will work with you so that you will better understand the issues related to your financial matters. Wondering how child-related tax deductions will be impacted? Unsure as to how employer-provided stock options work? Need to access retirement plans? These discussions will be part of your meetings.
Advice and Reports Regarding the Division of Your Assets and Liabilities
Who keeps what? How do you decide? Using the goals and the facts that have been identified, your divorce financial professional can explore with you the various options regarding the division of the assets and liabilities. Areas to discuss include after-tax value of your assets, the financial pros and cons of various options, and the impact of these choices to your future cash flow.
Review of Future Cash Flow
After having identified the sources of income, one then needs to incorporate the other factors that affect cash flow: income taxes and expenses. Expenses for the future may look different from the past. Insurances, such as health insurance, tend to go up as one of the spouses may seek out an individual policy, if no longer able to stay on the family plan. Filing statuses and income (especially income with no tax withholding) need to be reviewed in order to ensure the proper planning and payment of taxes.
Communication with Your Attorney
A divorce financial professional does not provide legal advice. Sound legal advice is necessary and can't be provided by a non-attorney. With your permission, reports and analyses can be shared with your attorney so that they may better assist you.
Depending on the complexity of your financial matters, there may be post-divorce matters to discuss. Transfers of investments, transfers of retirement plans, and tax filings typically occur after the divorce is final. A divorce financial professional can provide you with advice with regards these matters.
It may seem that adding one more professional is costly. The steps outlined above are necessary in order to make informed decisions. A divorce financial professional is trained in these issues and typically charges an hourly rate that is less than that of the attorney.
Information provided by:
Susan A. Moussi, CPA, CFP®, CDFA™, CVA
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