By Amy Clews, CPA, CDFA, CVA, CFE
Addleman & Associates
Why do we need a financial neutral in our Divorce?
The month of March is upon us, and many of us are looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day and celebrating all things Irish; however, did you know divorce in Ireland was not even legal until 1995? And if you’re struggling with the six-month waiting period in California, imagine waiting three years in Ireland where divorcing couples must live apart for two of the last three years before they can divorce.
How will a family potentially support two households both temporarily and in the long-term when finances are separate? How will an equitable settlement be achieved so the family can move forward amicably? These are only a few of the financial questions divorcing couples must consider.
In the collaborative process, the financial professional is there to help the couple address financial issues such as: 1) assisting with gathering financial documents, 2) preparing financial analyses, 3) presenting financial analyses to the collaborative team and the couple, and 4) assisting with financial planning for the future. The financial professional will help you plan for the agreements that you decide will work best for your family moving forward.
The financial professional is able to help with various financial analyses depending on your financial needs. Some of these analyses include…
Assisting with Gathering Financial Documents
The financial professional will provide a document request list that details the information and documents requested to complete your financial analyses.
Marital Balance Sheet
What do you own and what do you owe? An assets and debts analysis will help the divorcing couple determine what needs to be divided after considering the tax implications of those assets. For instance, it is important to consider a retirement account is not equal to a cash account.
How much income is available to provide spousal and child support? An income analysis determines what historical income levels have been for the family. Income sources can include many items such as wages, business income, interest income, dividend income, tax-exempt income, equity awards, and other sources of income.
How much money do you need to pay your expenses? A needs analysis is essentially a budget. This budget looks at historical spending and estimates future spending as well.
Do you have separate property that is included in your marital balance sheet? If so, tracing may need to be completed to determine the source of monies used for a current asset.
What is our business worth? The financial professional can help determine the value of the business and provide alternatives for owning that business going forward.
What does my financial future look like? During the collaborative process, the financial professional can assist in researching different financial alternatives to see how different agreements may affect your financial future.
The collaborative process allows you to find your solutions that serve your family. These creative solutions would not be offered in a true litigation environment. A collaborative process also keeps your financial information confidential, which can help heal your family as it moves on to the next chapter.