Moving to Settlement
Divorce Financial Specialist – Collaborative Divorce Ontario
Top 9 Reasons your separation may need one.
A Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts™ survey uncovered that how assets are divided during divorce proceedings has shifted significantly in the past several years. With the volatility in real estate markets and retirement account values, divorcing couples are focusing on distribution of liquid assets more than ever. In other words, the parties want cash rather than stocks, investments, real estate, or retirement plans.
With the trend away from Court actions in divorce and the increasing use of Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Mediation and Collaborative Divorce, the use of a Divorce Financial Specialists is becoming more common. Here we identify the Top 9 reasons that you should consider utilizing a Divorce Financial Specialists in your separation.
- Presence of illiquid assets such as real estate properties, business interests, annuities, restricted stock, or stock options. Even if a couple has accumulated significant wealth, illiquid assets can’t be used to pay the bills each month. There are often creative ways to leverage illiquid assets without being forced to liquidate them. Penalties and tax implications should be considered before making decisions.
- Inequality in the financial knowledge of the parties. In approximately 70% of households one person handles all of the financial matters for the family and the other has limited involvement. When the couple prepares for divorce, this can leave the person who had not been involved in the finances at a clear disadvantage and jeopardize the couple’s ability to avoid Litigation. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can level the playing field and can help position the parties for life post-divorce.
- Households with special needs children. For parents with special needs children proper estate planning is an absolute necessity. Divorce magnifies the need for proper planning and should not be overlooked. Special Needs Trusts are often created to protect the child without affecting Government aid.
- One of the parties is self-employed. A family-owned business may be one of the couple’s largest assets yet its value is often subject to dispute. A Divorce Financial Professional can determine the value and propose ways for dividing the business without disrupting the operations.
- You and/or your client suspect there are hidden assets. If there is a suspicion of hidden assets, negotiations will break down. A Forensic Accountant will analyze tax returns, bank statements, investment accounts, and credit reports to identify hidden assets and determine valuations.
- There are complex insurance needs (life insurance, health insurance, disability, or long-term care). In many Provinces, the payor of support must carry life insurance to protect the payee in the event of an untimely death. It’s also often recommended that they carry disability insurance. But what happens if the payor is uninsurable and cannot obtain coverage? A Divorce Financial Professional can help determine other means for protecting the payee.
- You are considering lump sum support. While support payments over time are tax deductible by the payor and treated as income by the payee, lump sum support does not receive this treatment and may result in unintended tax consequences for the parties. In addition, determining an appropriate present value for a stream of support payments, particularly in cases of permanent support, can prove tricky.
- Income needs to be generated from assets. In cases where earnings and support are not sufficient to support the client’s post-divorce lifestyle, assets received via equitable distribution can be used to generate income. A Certified Financial Planner™ with experience in divorce can advise clients on appropriate investment options.
- Divorce Over 50 (Gray Divorce). In cases involving older clients, there may be more assets but less income to work with. There are also additional financial complexities regarding Social Security planning, Estate Planning, Medicare, and Pension payout options.
Prepare for Divorce Mediation – Checklist
The Divorce Financial Specialist
The break-up of a marriage can be a very trying time. There are so many questions that need to be answered and often it is tough to know where to turn to find those answers. One of the toughest, most intimidating parts of a divorce can the financial aspect – thinking about how to support a family on what can sometimes be less than half of what the income was pre-divorce.
The role of a divorce financial specialist in mediation is to relieve these fears and keep the process as stress free as possible. By working with you throughout the mediation process, a divorce financial specialist can help you achieve many things, including:
The establishment of a stable, manageable budget that fits your financial situation. Now that your monthly income had changed, you will need to sit down and develop a budget. This may include the purchase of a new home, a new car, child care payments, etc. The financial expertise of a divorce financial specialist will allow you to determine what goals are realistic and how you can achieve them. This also involves informing you about important government tax benefits available to you.
The establishment of settlement goals. Part of the divorce process involves the splitting up of joint assets. A divorce financial specialist will work with you to devise a composed list of wants/needs.
The amicable division of all joint assets. Once in the mediation setting, the divorce financial specialist will help both parties settle the financial assets and come to a peaceable agreement.
By relying on a divorce financial specialist in mediation, you can avoid drowning in the costs of divorce and being financially unprepared after the divorce is complete. Divorce doesn’t have to be a costly matter that leaves you in debt and ill-equipped to tackle your new financial situation.
A successful mediation for separating couples is one in which they resolve all their disagreements and proceed to a separation agreement. Benefits of a mediated divorce settlement agreement include easing the emotional and financial stress, reducing the time, and safeguarding the children with an agreement both parties can live
The following checklist will help you avoid forgetting important issues and information during the mediation. Ideally, you have met or spoken with your divorce mediator prior to the date of mediation and provided some of this basic information. Regardless, it is always a good idea for you to have these with you, even if you will be attending the mediation with your lawyer and have previously provided these items to him or her:
1. Have basic information with you, including date of marriage, and the following documents for easy reference during the mediation:
- a list of real and personal property and what you believe is the fair market value of it;
- debt, including credit cards, mortgage statements, etc., and the balances on each;
- investment accounts, including retirement, pension, RRSPs, and regular investments, and the balances of each bank account both checking, savings and TFSA;
- If you and your spouse have children, include RESP accounts, records of extra ordinary expenses, etc. (Note: child support calculations are made based on your income recent pay stubs-it’s a good idea to bring at least at the last 3 months worth of pay stubs);
- Extended health benefit plan information, including the plan cost for you, and the cost of health benefit plan for the children alone, if you and your spouse have children from the marriage;
- any other document that is important to you and you wish to discuss with your spouse.
2. A list of the things and questions which are important to you to talk about and resolve.
3. An open mind. Regardless of what has taken place before this point, no one can change the past, including the mediator. It is best to look to the future and what you want to come out of the mediation so that you can evaluate the alternatives discussed during the mediation.
4. Be on time for the mediation. Even if your divorce mediation has been scheduled for the entire day, being on time will let you take advantage of every minute.
Do It Yourself Divorce
Finding yourself in the midst of a divorce can be very overwhelming and stressful. The threat of the lengthy and expensive divorce court process looms over your head, and you worry about how you will be able to get through it. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult! I can help.
When divorcing, avoid all of the unnecessary expenses and stress with a do it yourself divorce. A do it yourself divorce means that you do not need to go to court, and therefore do not need the added expense of a divorce lawyer. A do it yourself divorce allows you to start on your own time and on your own terms – and I can walk you through the process of a do it yourself divorce.
When you retain a lawyer to deal with your divorce, they will remain with you from beginning to end. Although this may seem like a good thing, it means that you will be billed for this entire period of time as well. Instead, a do it yourself divorce allows you to work through the process at your own pace without having to worry about those costly lawyer fees.
One of the most difficult challenges associated with a do it yourself divorce is the financial aspect. That is my specialty. I will work with you through the various different financial aspects of divorce including helping to accurately determine the value of marital property and how it should be divided; preparing statements of net worth; reviewing alternative divorce settlements; and recommending tax-minimizing strategies. I can tell you about government benefits that you may be entitled to. I can also work with you to develop budgets to suit your changing financial situation.
Are you in the pre-divorce stages but don’t know where to start. Start here, and let me help you through a do it yourself divorce which will save you valuable time and money!
Preparing for Divorce Insights
- Money will almost always become an issue in divorce
- Many people start out thinking and believing the promise that things will always be divided evenly and straightforward
- Money is sometimes used as a bargaining tool to resolve other issues
- Gather everything you can about your family finances
- Make a list of your financial property
- Gather statements and documents on all property
- Frequently one partner is not “in-the-know” on the family finances which makes this task difficult
- Understand that a 50/50 division of property is not always fair financially
- Take into account future value of property
- Comparable values of different types of property are not always equal due to tax implications
- Consider the tax implications of all of your financial divorce decisions
- Keep in mind that a change in marital status will affect your tax situation
- Consider the tax effect and true value of the assets you will retain
- Make sure that you can afford the house before you decide to keep it
- Pre-qualify for a mortgage
- Remeber that upkeep costs can be expensive, both financially and emotionally
- Understand the real net value of your investment and RRSP portfolios
- Understand tax liabilities and advantages of different investments
- Ensure pensions are properly valued
- Defined Benefit Plans must always be valued by a specialist
- Make sure that the payor of child and/or spousal support has life insurance to support these financial obligations
- Redo your Will and Power of Attorney
- Speak to a Divorce Financial Specialist
Divorce Settlement is about Choices
Settlements demand financial decision-making that will alter the rest of yours and possibly your children’s life. Most people have no knowledge of the specifics of the finances of divorce. Most people are often too emotional to make sound financial decisions regarding their future.
Quite often poor choices are made, choices that are permanent. These decisions require the experience of a divorce professional who specializes in the analysis of divorce finances.
We are divorce financial sepcialits. Ken S Maynard is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™), and the founder of Ontario Divorce Finances. He has consulted with individuals, couples and Collabrotive Law family lawyers to help people understand how an impending divorce will change their financial future.
Ken has a deep, personal understanding of the short and long-term financial implications of divorce, and is highly committed to helping her clients clarify their financial future.
Ken will work to keep your costs down and offers a flexible schedule that fits your lifestyle. He is also available evenings and weekends.
Working with clients at every stage of the divorce process
Ontario Divorce Finances consults with individuals and couples at the pre-divorce stage, with clients and their respective divorce lawyers and/or divorce mediators during the divorce process and with clients in the post-divorce stage to review their new financial and taxation situation. Contact us today.
Partnering with Collaborative Practice lawyers And Family Coaches
Ontario Divorce Finances is also a financial resource for collabortive law divorce lawyers and divorce mediators. We are strategic partners to law practices supporting matrimonial lawyers or the collaborative law team.
We will work with divorce mediators to form part of a formidable team helping couples to come to resolution on all of the financial issues. We will enhance the work of lawyers and mediators by helping your clients clarify and understand their financial decisions. We can enhance the services that collabortive divorce professionals offer by bringing financial clarity to their clients’ divorce cases. If you are an Ontario collabortive pratice family lawyer or a divorce mediator who would like to grow your practice by taking advantage of our services please contact us.
Contact Ontario Divorce Finances today for a FREE ½ hour initial consultation. Call (877) 932-8389