At Collaborative Online Practice, our financial specialists are either Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® (CDFAs®) and/or Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), in addition to holding other finance-related certifications. This neutral financial specialist works to further win-win outcomes for couples, rather than furthering the interests of one over the other. All of DCOP’s Financial Specialists are trained in both Mediation and the interdisciplinary team protocols required for Collaborative Divorce.
Financial transparency is legally required in all divorce process options. When one partner fears assets are being withheld or hidden, in Divorce Mediation or a Collaborative Divorce, a neutral CPA trained in forensic accounting can investigate and track financial assets in a non-adversarial way. Financial information is politely requested, and must be provided for the divorce to move forward. Transparency creates more effective settlements, and makes the divorce more civil and therefore cost-effective. (In a litigated divorce, you would normally pay two forensic CPA’s, and your attorneys would also be paid to subpoena and then review any information requested by and received from the CPA’s. Furthermore, and you would pay for any communication between your attorneys and both CPA’s.)
Selecting your Financial Specialist is often the most efficient first step in a Mediation or Collaborative Divorce. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to select a CDFA, a CPA, or someone who has both qualifications to serve as your Financial Neutral.
The Financial Neutral gathers, organizes and analyzes the couple’s financial information to provide attorneys with financial reports based off clients’ life-style data (e.g. credit card and bank statements, car loans). Due diligence is conducted on at least 3 years’ of tax returns to help ensure all assets are fully acknowledged.
If you own a home or hope to buy a residence post-divorce, it’s wise at this point to also jointly select a DCOP Mortgage Broker and Realtor, divorce specialists also trained in Mediation and Collaborative Divorce. Your shared, neutral Mortgage Broker and Realtor work collaboratively with your Financial Specialist. A Realtor who specializes in divorce can assess the actual value of your home with comparable data for use by your attorney(s), and can ensure potential buyers aren’t able to leverage your divorce to drive down you property value. A Mortgage Broker who specializes in divorce can ensure each spouse knows their requirements if they should wish to obtain a loan to purchase a residence post-divorce.
The value of the property and the loan/credit needs of each spouse are critical prior to negotiating the terms of any legal agreements with an attorney. Once your Financial Specialist has organized this data, you save money by being more fully prepared to engage your Mediating Attorney or your Collaborative Attorneys.
For a Collaborative Divorce, a couple jointly selects and shares a Neutral Financial Specialist who serves as the Team Manager to inform win-win solutions. Each partner then selects a Communications Coach and Collaborative Attorney, and the couple also jointly selects a neutral Child Specialist or Adult Child Specialist who represents the “voices” of the children and their concerns/needs.
When there is a difference in the financial experience between partners, a Financial Neutral levels the playing field by educating the less financially-skilled spouse, who can no longer rely on the more financially-savvy spouse. Disparity in knowledge contributes to fear and the erosion of trust on both sides.
Educating and empowering the less financially-skilled spouse serves both partners in the long-run: Trust increases and anxiety decreases for both. The couple is then better prepared, and more agreement-ready to make decisions about the amounts of financial support for a spouse/children, and about how partners will share their assets and debts. The Financial Specialist facilitates your making fully-informed financial decisions about support and sharing resources.