Family finances are an important issue in most divorces. The change from one home to two homes may result in doubling family financial obligations. A financial neutral, who is a member of the Collaborative Process team, assists the parties in gathering, organizing, and analyzing their financial information to assist in developing creative financial solutions that may not be available in litigation and are unique to the Collaborative Process. The financial neutral is a trained professional who may be a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst), and/or CDFP (Certified Divorce Financial Planner).
One of the services that a financial neutral provides is locating marital assets and sources of income. When a party has a concern about what assets exist or are owned by their spouse, the financial neutral will conduct a thorough investigation. The financial neutral also educates both parties regarding their financial profile which can be especially helpful to couples in making decisions regarding the division of marital property and future support. In addition, the financial neutral will assist the parties in creating a budget for their future.
The financial neutral may perform the following tasks:
- Meets individually with each client to begin the information gathering process
- Assists the clients in organizing their financial information
- Assesses the clients’ current budget and projects their future budgets once the divorce process is complete
- Educates the clients regarding their family finances
- Assists in the division of marital assets and debts
- Generates options for the division of retirement assets and pensions
- Values any individually owned or jointly owned businesses
- Provides tax advice and projections
- Projects alimony and child support needs over time
- Plans for the funding of educational expenses for children and/or spouse
- Any other financial planning needs raised by the clients during the Collaborative Process
The above list is not all-inclusive since families are all different and in different stages of life, e.g., retired, working, children at home, children in college, children out of the home, etc.
One of the biggest advantages of using the Collaborative Process is that the financial neutral utilizes specialized software to provide comprehensive reports of the family’s financial profile. As opposed to having two battling experts in court litigation, the financial neutral in the Collaborative Process streamlines the gathering of information and the financial analysis.
Using a financial neutral in the Collaborative Process eliminates the need for each party hiring their own expert and avoids the ‘battle of the experts’ which plays out in many divorces and greatly increases cost. The financial neutral’s role preserves family resources so that the parties’ assets can be better utilized for the changing family.