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The Value of a Divorce Financial Planner
A Divorce Financial Planner is a valuable resource when contemplating a divorce, while the divorce is in progress, and after a divorce.
Prior to Divorce Proceedings
Before the spouse is served the request for divorce, the initiator of the action should follow specific steps in order to gather asset documentation and expense figures. Once the action has commenced, the opposing party generally changes the mailing addresses of statements, and makes provisions so that fewer assets will be known by the non-financial oriented/non owner spouse or withholds any/all information.
When preparing an Affidavit of Net Worth, the parties rely on information available or known. To later search for those assets, using a forensic accountant, or not knowing they exist can be costly. Attorney's review the information and from this, decide on settlement and maintenance. If the action goes to court, the Judge is the one to make the binding ruling. In the divorce planning process, in New York, equitable distribution does not mean equal. Judges make judgment decisions based on the facts and the parties. Judges move out of a person's court is they feel that the party has deceived the court and the spouse by hiding information. Although a divorce financial planner is not a forensic accountant, and can not go in to review the assets of the opposing party, they can point out many inconsistencies with the data. From there, a financial decision can be made to help determine if further investigation is warranted and financially justified.
In one case I dealt with, my client's spouse would not present investment statements after repeated appeals by the court and the attorney's. With the income reported and expenses verified, there was so much excess cash available for investment that was not reported. This excess cash flow was either invested (statements should and must be made available), or assets were hidden. Since I was aware of the spouse's business, I knew that there could easily be a search for Non-Qualified Investments, where to look for them, and about additional pensions. These are assets that do not show up for tax purposes. Based on those projections, a Forensic Accountant was called upon. If this process were started later, there would be a greater push by one of the parties/attorneys to get the case settled rather than prolonging the proceedings and search.
During the Divorce Process
During the settlement process, a Divorce Financial Planner plays a crucial part of the divorce team. The division of assets and maintenance (if required) can be projected to determine future needs. The cost basis of the assets must be identified, because that ultimately affects the net outcome.
After the Divorce
Once the divorce is finalized, a divorce/certified financial planner can help teach the basics of budgeting, help with investment diversification, and in some instances manage the investments to meet the needs of the client.
A divorce financial planner is your advocate, just like your attorney, but a resource for financial advice.
"Divorce is the only human tragedy
that reduces everything to cash."
Fault grounds for divorce include adultery, constructive abandonment for at least one (1) year, cruel and inhuman treatment, and imprisonment of a spouse for three (3) or more years. Prior to October 2010, other than a legal separation agreement that was filed with the court, divorces were based on fault.
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