We have examined the role of the Child Specialist on the Collaborative Divorce Team. Now let’s examine the responsibilities of the Financial Specialist as another important neutral member of the team.
Experienced family law attorneys from Jupiter to Wellington acknowledge that during a divorce, money is the key to many issues which need to be decided and settled. Everything else flows from it: Who gets the house? How are retirement assets divided? Who pays for the children’s needs?
Robert Simon, Ph.D., and writer for About.com Divorce Support pages, says, “the financial specialist assists the team by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the divorcing couple’s financial affairs including assets that are owned (such as homes, bank accounts, stock, retirement plans, businesses), debts that are owed (such as mortgages, loans, credit cards) and cash flows derived from work and from other sources.”
Using this comprehensive snapshot of how the family lives with finances and applying that to each individual’s realistic needs, the financial specialist helps construct the best options and works with the team to craft an agreeable financial settlement.
According to King County Collaborative Law, to ensure that the process remains neutral, the financial specialist is “prohibited from having an ongoing financial relationship with either party,” and cannot have had a relationship with either prior to the process.
Perhaps one of the specialist’s most unique roles, says Simon, is that he or she “does not represent any clear constituency within the family.” Look at it this way: Each adult has a collaborative lawyer and possibly a collaborative coach, the children have a child specialist but the financial specialist is a neutral professional. “Thus, the financial specialist is often in a position to truly observe and uphold the integrity of the overall Collaborative process.”
A financial specialist generally has a credential in either Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and should earn a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) designation.
Having a financial specialist on your Collaborative Divorce Team has many benefits. Putting together a comprehensive, unbiased financial options for what is truly needed within the family is an important part of the duties. Add to that a person who has the whole process in mind and you make a “home run” every time.