Divorce Financial Planning

Divorce Financial Planning

 Many times we are asked, "What do you do as divorce financial planners?" For many individuals we meet, divorce financial planning is an area that they haven’t heard much about.

We began working with individuals who were going through a divorce in the mid-2000s. As we began to get more and more referrals from local attorneys, we began to see some trends around financial settlements, many of which did not turn out well for the client. We believe that this stemmed from the fact that we would often be asked to assist with a case after the settlement had already been decided, or the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) was already drafted. We were brought into the case towards the end rather than from the start.

A major reoccurring financial issue revolved around the family home. Many of the individuals we worked with had decided to keep their home, despite not having the cash flow needed to maintain the property. Again, this was negotiated prior to us being involved in the case. Years down the road we saw many (mostly women) being put in the position of having to sell their home in order to raise working capital.

In order to best serve our growing client base of divorcing and divorced individuals, we have earned our Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CFDA®) certifications. We also utilize specialized software that allows us to provide an analysis of different settlement options and what those options may look like for the client in the short, mid and long term.

To keep costs down and to preserve the family’s assets, there are options outside of the legal system for help in navigating the divorce process. Lawyers know the law, but financial professionals have specialized training that brings their expertise to the divorce table. A CFDA® brings financial clarity, creativity, and confidence into the conversation as you begin to work through your divorce negotiations.


With compiling a financial affidavit - part of this work is ensuring that there are no hidden assets, overstatements of expenses, that statements are current, and that valuations of pensions and other assets are correct

Creation of cash flow and net worth projections – based on the entire financial data presented, we review the different settlement options and present the different scenarios to the client and their attorney/mediator


Reviewed tax implications – Understanding how cost basis and the division of taxable and nontaxable assets can be critical in dividing up assets between couples

Protected interests – If a spouse is relying on spousal maintenance or child support, we ensure that there is sufficient protection, generally through life insurance

Calculations of support – We work with you to ensure that you have adequately determined what child and spousal support will be needed for current and future needs


Examination of bankruptcy, debt and credit claims – Our process includes looking at the division of debt, the possibility of bankruptcy and how credit will be managed

Expert testimony – if needed, we can provide expert testimony around financial issues as they relate to the marriage and possible settlement options

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders – we can assist with drafting QDROs for all types of defined contribution plans and most defined benefit plans (pensions)

How do we get compensated?
Initial consultations with potential clients are at no charge. If and when, we both decide that this would be a good fit, we would charge an hourly fee for our service.

Who do we work with?
We work with the client and their attorneys, mediators and those using a collaborative divorce process.

Due to the potential for conflict of interest, we do not manage any investments for clients during the divorce process. However, once the divorce planning engagement is completed and formally terminated and if a client would like to retain our services for their comprehensive financial planning needs, this is possible. We have found that we can often save time and money by making sure that financial information is correct. In this way it allows the lawyer and/or mediator to focus on the legal and settlement portions of the case.

Need more information? Read more:

8 Reasons Baby Boomers are Clogging Up Divorce Court

5 Ways to Eliminate Debt Before or During Divorce

Divorce and Social Security

Women in Divorce need to Understand Division of Marital Assets



michelle@harkinswealth.com or rick@harkinswealth.com


This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified legal advisor.