Don’t Just Hire Your Dad’s Financial Advisor for Your Divorce

woman working with divorce financial advisor

While divorce is obviously an emotional process, it is also likely the largest financial transaction of your life. It is only logical that you seek financial guidance during your divorce, maybe for the first time in your life. For most women, this means asking friends and family for referrals to financial advisors they have worked with and liked. However, this may not be the time to use an advisor just because someone you know had an enjoyable experience with them. Instead, look for three key skills in any advisor you may be considering.

Real Financial Planning Skills

Many people call themselves financial advisors, but that title is not regulated and so the skills and services provided can differ greatly. There are a number of investment and insurance sales professionals who call themselves financial advisors but really don’t offer any guidance beyond the products they are trying to sell.

Divorce is not a problem to be solved with a mutual fund or insurance product. You need to work with someone who can help you develop a holistic plan including cash flow, investments, insurance, retirement, and estate planning. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is trained in all of these areas and can be a good place to start. Ensure that any professional that you are considering holds this credential and offers true financial planning, not just investment management, as part of their service model.

Divorce Expertise

While a holistic planner is a good place to start, one with divorce expertise is even better. Divorce is a complicated transaction with many nuanced considerations. While most financial planners are skilled in planning for common events like retirement, few have training and experience in the world of divorce. This is where a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can be instrumental. In fact, I know several financial advisors who became CDFAs after going through their own divorces and realizing how little their previous financial planning training and experience prepared them for handling divorce related planning.

Depending on the types of assets you and your husband have, the divorce process can be much more complicated than just adding up the value of your assets and dividing it in half. There are also tax issues and short- and long-term cash flow impacts to be considered. Most divorce attorneys and mediators, while skilled in the law, are not financial experts and do not understand the long-term financial impacts of various asset splits. You want to have someone in your corner who understands all of these nuances and can help you understand them. You also want someone who can illustrate the impact of various settlement options for you and your children, both short-term and long-term.

Bandwidth to Support You Properly

Finally, you will also want to consider how much time the advisor has available to dedicate to you. Many of the large national investment firms have financial planners available for their clients. However, these advisors often work with 200-300 clients each. In this model, they are much like most doctors, they have to get their clients in and out quickly and don’t have the time to really dig into the details. The complexity of divorce requires an advisor who can dedicate time to understanding your situation, forecasting various scenarios and guiding you through the process, both the numbers and the emotions.

Most financial advisors who really specialize in helping divorcing clients work independently or in small firms. This might mean that that they are a little harder to find, but the extra investment of time in finding a true expert will pay dividends for you as you move forward. You can search industry associations such as the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA) or the Association of Divorce Financial Planners (ADFP) for local practitioners. Or you can ask your lawyer or mediator for a recommendation.

Hire the Right Person for the Job

Finding the right financial professional to help with your divorce is an important task. While asking friends and family for recommendations might be a place to start, I recommend you do some more research and find someone who is best qualified to help you during this challenging time. You want to make sure you find someone who offers comprehensive financial planning, understands the complexities of divorce, and has the ability and desire to spend the time with you necessary to help you understand the decisions you are making. Having the right team by your side will help you move into your next chapter with confidence.

If you are interested in learning about how I can help you take charge of your finances as a newly single woman, please contact me at  or schedule a free 20-minute consultation.

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