Hey Frugs! I met Lisa Decker of Divorce Money Matters at a blogging convention a while ago and I’ve been smitten with her money-saving smarts ever since! Lisa is a certified divorce financial analyst, which means she assists and advocates for the financial health of her clients during a divorce. Lisa’s motto? “Divorce Your Spouse, Not Your Money!” You know I love it! Please enjoy this Q&A with Lisa below!
Divorce Financial Tips
What do you do? Is it different than hiring an attorney?
As a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA), I serve people who struggle with figuring out the financial matters of their divorce. Most people are anxious and overwhelmed about where to begin and what comes next in the process. They usually don’t have clarity about what they own, what they owe or what’s owed to them, and they don’t realize that it’s not only your spouse you have to worry about giving your money to – attorneys and Uncle Sam would love a big bite too!
A CDFA can work with individuals and their attorneys (as their advocate) or with couples (as a financial neutral) to figure out all the moving pieces so they get organized, get answers, and get it done right saving them time, money and their sanity in the process.
Know someone in need? Please send them to www.DivorceMoneyMatters.com for my FREE Divorce Prep and Planning Kit
What are some tips do you have for people considering filing for a divorce
First off, start thinking of your divorce as a business transaction and conducting yourself accordingly. Get educated, get organized and become a proactive partner with the members of your divorce team, whichever method you choose to use to get your best results.
Also, remember that your attorney and your divorce financial professional are not trained therapists and should not be used as such. Again, if you need someone to talk with then find a good therapist or support group, but don’t vent to your attorney at the high hourly rates they charge unless you are willing to pay the high bill that comes with it.
Also, decisions made from an emotional standpoint can be costly. Many times I hear clients say, “I just want this over with now. Let him/her have whatever they want just I can be done with it.” This is a common sentiment and absolutely the worst place to start making decisions from. Mistakes made in divorce will likely have to be lived with for a lifetime. Get support to help you make wise decisions.
What are the different types of divorces? and the financial implications? Which is the most expensive? The least expensive?
This is how I would lay them out from least to most expensive, although there are modified models of some and the ones in between can become more costly if things don’t go as planned. Regardless of what method is chosen, I always advise that folks consult with a specialist in divorce financial matters in addition to the legal advice, as early as possible in the proceedings, preferably pre-divorce, to get their best outcome.
· Pro-Se – Do it yourself – May be OK for very simple cases (no real estate or other assets or debts, no children), but beware this can be riddled with problems. Best to at least consult with a financial advisor and attorney before signing on the dotted line!
· Pre-Divorce Financial Planning – Working with a CDFA or a divorce financial planner to work out the financial issues before filing for divorce can be very cost effective. Once the financial and parenting issues (if there are any) are worked out then a couple can file an uncontested divorce literally saving themselves thousands, if not tens of thousands, in legal fees.
· Mediation – Mediators act as neutral parties to help couples craft their own agreements.
· Arbitration – Used only for particular areas of contention that couples can’t work out on their own. Has the potential to be final and binding. Not commonly used in divorce or the best way to go, but can be useful in some situations.
· Collaborative Divorce – Uses a team concept – 2 attorneys, 2 coaches, 1 financial neutral and 1 child specialist, if needed. Parties all agree not to go to court to settle their differences There are pros and cons to this as well.
· Cooperative Divorce – Similar to a collaborative divorce, but parties leave open the option for going to court. That option can be a pro and a con.
· Litigated Divorce – This is what most people think of when they hear the word divorce. Knock down, duke it out in court types of divorces with very adversarial approaches. With the right blend of attorneys on both sides, this may work out favorably for all parties, but beware, with the wrong type of attorney on either side, this option may end up being a money and sanity sucker for both parties as the attorney needlessly fans flames and drives up fees.
You often say that people should get organized – especially financially. What do you mean and why is this important?
Part of getting organized is getting clear on your goals and the outcome you would like to see. Is someone more concerned with keeping assets or getting rid of debts, or having an income stream? What are their priorities and how can they best accomplish getting to that?
Next is putting a system in place to manage the details of the divorce. Planning schedules for attorney and CDFA meetings, court dates, and child specialist meetings (is important). Missing critical appointments is easy to do when you are going through emotional turmoil, but it can be very costly if this happens.
Also, a huge step is getting all of your financial documents organized. So many times people come to me and they have no idea what they have because their spouse was the one who took care of all the finances during the marriage.
Should you people know how much money that they have in an account? What about their mates?
I always advise that people get to know their money matters, no matter whether they are married or not. If you don’t “Mind Your Money Matters™” then someone else will and that’s when people find themselves in trouble. This would fall under the getting organized piece above.
Should you get proof of cheating if you are considering a divorce?
This is more of a legal question, but I will tell you that in some states (including Georgia) if it can be proven without a doubt that there has been infidelity then the cheating spouse will not likely be able to obtain spousal support (alimony). If you are someone who might end up having to pay for support, you would definitely want proof of this.
Lisa C. Decker is an expert in divorce financial matters. As a discreet problem-solver and trusted advisor she guides clients to “Divorce Your Spouse, Not Your Money™.” Her website is divorcemoneymatters.com.
What do you think about Lisa’s tips? Do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Had you heard of a CDFA before? Would you ever use one if you ever needed a divorce?