In addition to being a divorce mediator I am also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) ™. A CDFA™ helps attorneys and clients make financial sense of various settlement proposals and determine the short-term and long-term financial impact of any proposed divorce settlement. I also provide valuable information on financial issues that are related to the divorce, such as tax consequences, dividing pension plans, continued health care coverage, stock option elections and much more. There are many different roles I can play when working with lawyers:
Strategist/Litigation Support: A CDFA™ can be used as a strategist in the litigation process. I prepare various reports and analyses showing the financial implications for different divorce settlements. This can provide lawyers the ammunition needed to negotiate the most advantageous settlement for the client.
Financial Expert: I can serve as the financial expert in the divorce process giving input on investment data, retirement plans, benefit programs, business records, tax returns, and all other financial data.
Data Collector/Budget Preparer: I can play a key support role in helping the lawyer and the client collect data to prepare the financial affidavit and pre and post-divorce budgets.
Client Expectations Manager: This is probably one of the most important roles that a CDFA™ plays in the process. Many clients come in with unrealistic expectations; clients often need a reality check. For instance, there was a case where a woman was getting divorced after 25 years of marriage. The children, two girls, were just about out of college. The woman had expectations that when she became divorced from her husband, who was earning about $95,000 per year, she would essentially be taken care of for the rest of her life. She needed to know, from a financial planner’s perspective, the reality of what was going to happen. Even though her husband earned a significant salary, she did not have a realistic view of what could be expected as a result of the divorce. They did not have very much property, and they had spent almost everything they had earned during the marriage. In addition, she had not worked much outside of the home. It was very important for someone with an extensive financial planning background to give her a realistic expectation of the future.
Evidence Presenter: In meetings with the client; the client and his/her attorney; the client, spouse and the lawyers; mediation sessions; arbitration hearings or the trial, the CDFA™ is often asked to present evidence to show the financial impact of different settlement options or information related to financial, tax, investment or retirement plan issues.
Michele Martin is a divorce mediator serving the Capital District of New York including Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Warren, Fulton and Washington Counties.
Michele M. Martin Divorce Mediator
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CFDATM)