The most common financial mistake is not hiring at least a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and, preferably, one that is also a Certified Financial Planner. Far too many men and women rely on attorneys or counselors to give financial advice. An attorney is a legal professional, not a counselor or financial expert, unless, of course, they hold those credentials. Similarly, a counselor or financial expert may know a great deal about family law, but they may not know all the particulars of both sides of a case or the judge involved. Each professional should function in their area of expertise but freely communicate with other hired professionals. A financial expert should be able to help determine, given the assets available, a division appropriate for the age, earning capacity, and accustomed standard of living of both spouses. A financial expert should help clients understand that divorce is not about today, tomorrow, this year, or even the next five years. It is about the rest of a person’s life, and the decisions made should be business decisions, not emotional ones. The second most common financial mistake is not looking far enough into the future when making division decisions. It is hard to see through tears and/or anger. Smart spouses hire clear eyes and knowledgeable heads to see for them and advise them.
Beth Dickson (CFP, CDFA) is a financial planner and mediator practicing at Equitable Solutions in Houston and the head of Texas WIFE, a non-profit agency that helps women take control of their financial future post-divorce.