Divorce Financial Specialists

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Kimberly Malesky, CDFA®, MBA, CFP®

Family Financial Mediator




Jessica Simmons, CDFA®, CFP®

Family Financial Mediator




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

Family Financial Mediator




Divorce Financial Specialists

VDC’s Financial Specialists are Certified Financial Planners® (CFPs) and/or Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and are also each required to be Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® (CDFAs®).  In addition to holding other finance-related certifications, all of VDC’s Financial Specialists are also trained in both Mediation and Collaborative Divorce.

As needed, you may include a Divorce Mortgage Broker and/or a Divorce Realtor as part of your neutral, Financial Team. They can work hand-in-hand with your neutral Financial Specialist at the outset and during your divorce.

Selecting a neutral Financial Specialist is often the most efficient and cost-effective first step in any divorce process! 

In a Mediation and 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. Your organized financial data later inform win-win options as attorney(s) help you negotiate the sharing of income, assets, and debts.

For a Collaborative Divorce, a couple always jointly selects and shares a Neutral Financial Specialist who also serves as the Professional Team Manager.

Declarations of Disclosure

Divorcing partners are each legally required to provide a “Declaration of Disclosure,” including your current budget and all your income, assets and debts.  Declarations are created using clients’ life-style data (e.g. cash flow, at least 3 years’ of tax returns, credit card and bank statements, car loans, real estate, retirement accounts, stocks and bond investments, etc.). Your Financial Specialist works to help ensure all assets are fully acknowledged. Divorce attorneys need Declarations of Disclosure to help couples negotiate how they will share their income, assets and debts.

A neutral Financial Specialist is often significantly less expensive than an attorney (or two attorneys!) to create these documents for each of you, while gathering, organizing and analyzing your legally-required financial information. Your neutral Financial Specialist also is able to provide budgets that show the financial consequences of different possible scenarios for sharing your assets and debts, before you negotiate. Financial clarity allows you both to make well-informed decisions.

Transparency & Increased Trust Reduce Costs

Myth: You must already be civil, respectful and trust one another to mediate effectively. You do nothave to trust one another to achieve financial transparency in a mediation or collaborative divorce.

Many high-conflict couples divorce effectively use mediation or collaborative divorce methods, provided they have adequate communication and financial support.

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 for the divorce process to move forward.

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 (Do-It-Yourself, Litigation, Mediation, or Collaborative Divorce) this often:  

  • Creates foundational transparency and trust, which avoids adversarial positioning before clients begin work with attorneys,
  • Reduces much financial anxiety and related distrust, 
  • Allows for more respectful and effective negotiations with attorneys,
  • Significantly decreases costs (especially compared to paying 2 attorneys to perform this function and/or paying 2 additional financial specialists as well), and
  • Makes future interactions far more respectful in the long-run, and therefore much more cost-effective. 

The greater your distrust and anxiety about transparency and financial matters, the less confident you can be about making financial decisions. When you’re anxious, this literally physically impairs your ability to make reasoned decisions. The more anxious you are, the more reactive you’ll be and the more you’ll need professional advice and intervention.  A neutral, divorce Financial Specialist increases transparency, reduces distrust and your costs.

Balancing Financial Knowledge Between Spouses Reduces Costs

Once divorce is on the table, a less financially-knowledgeable spouse can no longer reasonably rely on the spouse that understood and managed the money during the marriage.

When trust has deteriorated, it is worth some added expense to have a Neutral Financial Specialist educate a less financially-savvy spouse in an open, transparent way that allays fears and concerns. As trust increases, fear and costs decrease for both spouses. Both are then more agreement-ready and equipped to make decisions about financial support for a spouse/child(ren), and about how to share their assets and debts. 

Using a Neutral Financial Specialist in Litigation

Even in a litigated divorce, you can both save considerable costs by selecting and meeting together first with a neutral, financial specialist trained in both mediation and collaborative practice. You can 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. Instead, you can both agree to a Neutral Financial Specialist. When you don’t, your litigating attorneys must be paid to subpoena and review information requested from the other spouse’s attorney and CPA. This sets up an inherently more adversarial, stressful and costly process. You pay for all communication between both attorneys and two CPA’s, plus fees for attorney-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.

A Harsh Reality About Hidden Assets

Regardless of your divorce method, when a spouse is skilled at hiding assets, an attorney with integrity will tell you the harsh reality that you may not find the hidden assets you seek. At some point you must decide whether the cost of hunting down hidden assets outweighs the risk of not finding something that justifies that cost. When a spouse is skilled at hiding assets, we have seen people spend small fortunes hunting down assets, without finding them.