Working the Numbers in Divorce

The financial settlement is the major component of many divorces.  Making sure that a professional who is an expert in finances is also an expert in divorce is key.  A financial professional working on a divorce needs to be familiar with the legal landscape in divorce, tax issues that specifically relate to divorce, and the long term impact of the financial settlement in a divorce.

Three different professions tend to gravitate toward this work.

Investment professionals sometimes do this work as a loss leader to get investment clients after the divorce.  Be aware of this, both because of the potential for a lack of objectivity and because they might not have the training and credentials necessary to advise on divorce issues.

Tax professionals also often enter the divorce process.  Many CPAs and Enrolled Agents have excellent grasp of the tax and legal considerations in divorce and provide a great compliment to the work the attorney does.  If tax professionals have a shortfall in divorce in general, it’s that they don’t always take the long view.  They are great at looking at the numbers now, but don’t always think in terms of the long term outcome for both spouses.

Financial planners can also be great assistance in a divorce.  If the financial planner is a Certified Financial Planner she’s had training in looking at all aspects of a financial picture, including taxes and the long term perspective.  If this person has more a working knowledge of tax issues in divorce and understands knows the divorce arena, she could be a great addition to your divorce team.  Getting help with the financial settlement between you and your soon-to-be ex is important.  You need to decide on alimony, dividing assets and debts, and calculate child support if you have kids.  Generally, courts aren’t amenable to re-opening divorce settlements because people didn’t make wise decisions.  Paying a financial professional to help you evaluate your settlement can one of the best investments you ever make.

About the author

Linda Y. Leitz, CFP®, EA, CDFA

Linda Y. Leitz is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ and has been in the financial industry since 1979. She is also enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Before becoming a financial professional, Linda held several executive positions in the banking industry. She began her career as a bank examiner. Linda has a BBA in Business Administration from Principia College and an MBA from Southern Methodist University.
As a fee-only financial planner Linda is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Tax Professionals and the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors. As a leader in the financial planning industry, Linda is the author of the book titled "The Ultimate Parenting Map to Money Smart Kids". She has been quoted in several national publications including the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, and Morningstar Advisor and she has appeared on CSNBC. She also works as a volunteer instructor to new financial advisors with the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors.

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