Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA)

What Is the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA)?

The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA) is an organization committed to educating financial professionals about specific issues relating to divorce. The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts certifies members who complete its modular study program, which highlights divorce tax law and asset distribution.

People going through a divorce can contact the IDFA, which will help them find a suitable agent to help them through divorce proceedings.

Key Takeaways

  • The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA) educates financial professionals about issues related to divorce.
  • The IDFA trains certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs) in divorce settlement tax consequences and asset distribution.
  • CDFAs can also act as divorce settlement mediators and consultants for a client's lawyer.
  • CDFAs collect and analyze a client's financial data, making recommendations to the client about budgeting, setting retirement objectives, and determining investment risk levels.
  • To earn the CDFA designation, candidates must meet the prerequisites established by the IDFA and pass an exam.

Understanding the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA)

The IDFA trains certified divorce financial analysts, or CDFAs, who help support the divorce process. These analysts are schooled in the various tax consequences that result from divorce settlements and can help with equitable asset distribution of the divorcing couple's property and estate. The CDFA can also act as a consultant for a client's lawyer or serve as a mediator during the settlement proceedings.

A certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) is not a lawyer and may not provide legal advice. CDFAs do not replace lawyers in a divorce case but limit their work to the financial analysis related to divorce.

IDFA Activities

The IDFA calls itself "the authority on divorce planning theory and application in North America. IDFA will establish standards for certification of divorce financial analysts that are objective, reliable, and meet the current benchmarks for certifying bodies. The IDFA helps to ensure the financial health and welfare of the divorcing public through the accreditation of individuals as Certified Divorce Financial Analysts."

Practitioners with the certification have an understanding of the short-term and long-term effects of dividing property, analyzing pensions and retirement plans, determining if the client can afford the marital home, and if not, what they can afford, as well as recognizing the tax consequences of different settlement proposals.

Much of the role involves collecting the client’s financial data and performing analysis, then presenting different scenarios and talking through the client’s budget and expenses. They help clients collect financial and expense data, identify their future financial goals, make a budget, set retirement objectives, determine how much risk they are willing to take with their investments, and help identify what kind of lifestyle they want.

According to a 2020 report from the Census Bureau, the U.S. divorce rate fell from 9.7 new divorces per 1,000 women age 15 and over in 2009 to 7.6 in 2019.

Requirements for CDFA Designation

To gain the CDFA designation, candidates must have a minimum of three years of professional experience and a bachelor's degree. If the candidate does not have a bachelor's degree, five years of relevant experience are required.

Experience includes working in financial planning or family law practice, or experience must include three or more in the following areas:

  1. Tax code
  2. Investment advisory or management
  3. Real estate, mortgage lending, and reverse mortgages
  4. Financial therapist or coach
  5. Life and disability insurance

CDFA Examination

To earn the CDFA designation, candidates must pass an exam consisting of 150 multiple-choice questions. Candidates will have four hours to take the exam and must pass with a score of 75% or higher.

The IDFA offers four methods for CDFA candidates to earn their designation: self-study, self-paced eLearning, virtual classroom, or exam only. The IDFA designed the program to be completed in one year, although most candidates complete it in three to four months.

To pass the exam, candidates must study a range of topics covering the financial aspects of divorce. These topics include an overview of divorce laws and procedures, marital property, fundamentals of spousal and child support, and tax issues related to selling and transferring property.

To retain the CDFA designation after successfully passing the exam, holders must remain in good standing with the IDFA, pay an annual renewal fee, and obtain 30 divorce-related hours of continuing education every two years. The self-study course has been accepted by the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) board and qualifies for 20.5 hours of CFP board credit.

Article Sources
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  1. Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. "General Information."

  2. United States Census Bureau. "U.S. Marriage and Divorce Rates Declined in Last 10 Years."

  3. Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. "Become a CDFA Professional."

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