Divorce Financial Specialists

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Kimberly Malesky, CDFA®, MBA, CFP®

Family Financial Mediator




Brett Cicinelli, CFA, CFP®, CDFA®, MAFF®

Family Financial Mediator




Divorce Financial Specialists

VDC Financial Specialists are Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® (CDFAs®) and/or Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), in addition to holding other finance-related certifications and being trained in Mediation and Collaborative Divorce.

Selecting your Financial Specialist is often the most efficient and cost-effective first step in any divorce! Depending on your financial situation, you may need a CDFA®, a CPA®, or someone who has both or additional qualifications to serve as your Financial Neutral. Our Financial Specialists will be able to tell you what financial specialist(s) you need based on your financial facts. 

When a Financial Specialist is trained as both a Mediator and Collaborative Professional and is hired as a Neutral at the outset of any divorce process, this often:  

  • Significantly decreases costs (compared to paying attorneys to perform this function and/or paying two separate financial specialists), 
  • Reduces much financial anxiety and related distrust, 
  • Creates foundational transparency and trust, 
  • Allows for more respectful and effective settlements with attorneys, and 
  • Makes future interactions less adversarial and far more respectful in the long-run, and therefore much more cost-effective. 

The more anxious you are about financial matters or transparency, the greater your distrust, the less confident you are about your financial decisions, and the more adversarial and costly your divorce will be. Why? When you’re anxious, this physically impairs your ability to make effective decisions, and you’ll need more professional advice and intervention.

Divorcing partners are all legally required to each provide a “Declaration of Disclosure,” with your current budget and all your assets and debts. Declarations are created using clients’ life-style data (e.g. cash flow, credit card and bank statements, car loans, real estate). Due diligence is conducted on at least 3 years’ of tax returns, bank statements, stocks and bond investments, retirement accounts, etc. to help ensure all assets are fully acknowledged. When you don’t hire a Neutral Financial Specialist, your attorney(s) handles this function, billing at attorney rates.

Divorce attorneys use Declarations of Disclosure document to help couples negotiate how they will share their assets and debts. A Neutral Financial Specialists is often significantly less expensive than an attorney (or two attorneys!), and can create these documents for each of you, as well as gathering, analyzing and organizing the combined information. Your Financial Specialist can provide budgets that allow you to see the specific financial consequences associated with different decisions, before you negotiate how you’ll share your assets and debts. Financial clarity allows you both to make well-informed decisions.

Financial transparency is legally required in all divorce process options, and there are serious legal consequences for failure to be transparent. When one partner fears assets are being withheld or hidden, a Neutral Financial Specialist can investigate and track financial assets in a non-adversarial way. Financial information is politely requested, and simply must be provided if the divorce is to move forward.

Even in a litigated divorce, you can both save considerable costs by meeting together first with a neutral, financial specialist trained in both mediation and collaborative practice. You then share this information with your respective litigating attorneys. In a litigated divorce, each attorney often traditionally requires that you each hire separate forensic CPA’s. You can both ask for and agree to a Neutral Financial Specialist instead. When you don’t, your attorneys must be paid to subpoena and review information requested from the other partner’s attorney and CPA. This sets up an inherently more adversarial and costly process. Furthermore, in litigation you pay for all communication between both attorneys and two CPA’s, plus fees for attorney-forensic CPA preparation of court documents, their coordination of efforts, court appearances for four professionals (if the case goes to trial), time waiting in court, and all travel time.

Disparity in financial knowledge contributes to fear and the erosion of trust on both sides, which increases your costs. Educating and empowering the less financially-skilled spouse serves both partners in the long run: As trust increases, anxiety and costs decrease for both. Both are then better prepared and more agreement-ready to make decisions about any financial support for a spouse/child(ren), and about how to share their assets and debts. 

Once trust has deteriorated between you, it is worth any added expense to have a Neutral Financial Specialist educate the less savvy spouse in an open and transparent way that allays fears and concerns, with both spouses present. Decreasing fear and distrust, significantly decreases your costs and prepares you to negotiate more confidently with your attorney(s).

You do NOT have to trust one another to ensure financial transparency in a mediation, particularly when your professionals are collaboratively trained (ask us more about this!). It is also a myth that you must already be civil and respectful to mediate effectively. Many high-conflict couples divorce effectively using mediation or collaborative divorce methods, provided they have adequate communication and financial support

In Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, the Neutral Financial Specialist works to further win-win outcomes for both partners, rather than furthering the interests of one over the other. 

For a Collaborative Divorce, a couple always jointly selects and shares a Neutral Financial Specialist who also serves as the Professional Team Manager. Your organized financial data later informs possible win-win solutions when the attorney(s) help you negotiate the sharing of income, assets, and debts. The Financial Specialist facilitates your making fully informed financial decisions, with the support of the rest of your professional team.

Other Possible Members of Your Financial Team 

If you own a home or hope to buy a residence post-divorce, it’s wise at this point to also jointly select a VDC Mortgage Broker and Realtor, divorce specialists also trained in Mediation and Collaborative Divorce. Your shared, neutral Mortgage Broker and Realtor work collaboratively with your Financial Specialist. A Realtor who specializes in divorce can assess the actual value of your home with comparable data for use by your attorney(s), and can ensure potential buyers aren’t able to leverage your divorce to drive down you property value. A Mortgage Broker who specializes in divorce can ensure each spouse knows their cash and credit requirements should they wish to qualify to rent or seek a loan to purchase a residence post-divorce. 

The value of the property and the loan/credit needs of each spouse are critical prior to negotiating the terms of any legal agreements with an attorney. Once your Financial Specialist has organized this data, you save money by being more fully prepared to engage your Mediating Attorney or your Collaborative Attorneys.