What Is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)?

A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) uses their knowledge of tax law, asset distribution and short- and long-term financial planning to achieve equitable divorce settlements. The best-case scenario for two people divorcing is that it’s amicable and both parties agree on the division of assets. In this case, you might only need a neutral mediator just to help with paperwork. Some divorces that don’t involve property, retirement accounts, children or large sums of money might even be completed by following a few simple steps online.

However, divorce after many years of marriage with two conflicted people almost always requires the hiring of two attorneys—one to represent both parties. Unfortunately, court dates, attorney meetings and negotiations all add up to time, and time means a whole lot of money to attorneys.

Understanding Certified Divorce Financial Analysts

Hiring yet another professional may not be ideal. However, some situations call for a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). While this person cannot provide legal advice, unless, of course, they have the proper license—a CDFA can provide in-depth financial analysis and advice to the attorneys and divorcees relating to the divorce.

The Divorce Process With a CDFA

Information provided by the clients and attorneys is used to analyze proposals for the division of assets, alimony, custody, child support, etc. CDFAs can then project the financial impact of a proposal in the short and long-term, and formulate different options that may leave both parties in better positions post-marriage. They can even give absolute values to assets that may be under or overestimated.

According to lawyers.com, a CDFA might be a good fit if couples own a business together or have significant property to better understand the value of their assets and debts. Additionally, they can create a post-divorce budget, so you have a financial plan moving forward.

In a nutshell, CDFAs are best at providing advice on:

  • valuing assets and debts
  • valuing the marital home
  • dividing retirement and pension accounts
  • the amount and duration of alimony
  • tax implications of alimony and property division, and
  • setting up a budget for life after the divorce.

CDFAs go through a rigorous process to become this type of professional. They must have a bachelor’s degree with three years of on-the job experience or, if no bachelor’s degree, five years of relevant experience. Candidates are required to pass an exam designed by the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA). There are currently four methods of pursuing the CDFA certification: exam only, self study, self-paced eLearning and virtual classroom.

While a CDFA may be knowledgeable about divorce law, they should never be hired in place of an attorney.