I am humbled every time I'm hired to be a part of the difficult and life-changing process of divorce. About 50% of the time, I'm hired by only one spouse and then I am an advocate for that spouse. They often will share the data and information with the other spouse, but I am primarily looking out for their interests. This is often the case when their is a wide disparity in financial knowledge or incomes. However, more and more frequently I am hired as a financial neutral, working on behalf of both spouses. In this case, we work for the combined best case for both. Either way, my task is to support you in the many financial decisions you and your attorney will be making.
My process is both thorough and compassionate. It is an iterative process. Depending upon the complexity and the personalities involved, this process can take a few weeks or up to a year.
We start with the data. And we start with what's important to you (and what's important to your spouse). I like to begin with areas of agreement or minimal conflict. Next, we find any holes or discrepancies in the data. It is not uncommon to have to do a deep dive into a few things. We build agreement as we can. Step-by-step we use information, analysis, discussions, negotiations and mediation. Sometimes there are difficult conversations. You and your spouse have different "money personalities". You and your spouse might be in different places emotionally. We work through the questions, the options. We run scenarios; we look for creative solutions. We ask "what-if". We explore various proposals.
Depending on the type of divorce process and the legal professionals involved, the legal part of your team is involved in varying degrees and at various times. They are always engaged for any legal questions that come up. The attorney's frequently help negotiate or mediate certain decisions and one of the attorney's draws up the legal paperwork. The final documents get reviewed by many including me if you request it. I review as a second set of eyes on the financial sections.
Right now, you may feel overwhelmed, confused, uncertain, or just resigned to "get-it-over-with". As we work together, you will feel empowered because you have the information and support (analysis, projections, education) to move forward. To make decisions.
Meet Your Team
Divorce is a rough road.
Bring along a CDFA
Susan Austin is an independent CDFA®. Through life’s twists and turns, she believes all roads have led to her current CDFA® practice which she enjoys very much. Many CDFA's are also financial planners or wealth managers, Susan does not manage money and thus avoids any inherent conflict of interest.
Susan’s background in Economics, Quantitative Methods and an MBA in Finance have afforded her a wide and varied career which began in corporate finance, transitioned to owning and operating a small business, assisting with the startup of two small non-profits, providing independent business and economic analysis, and later managing an early-stage private equity group.
She is a board member and frequent financial presenter at Second Saturday® Des Moines monthly workshops. She also teaches introductory courses for the ACA (Angel Capital Association).
When she learned about the CDFA profession eight years ago, she knew it was the perfect fit for the next chapter in her life.
You can begin the CDFA work even if you have not yet selected your attorney. The information and analysis you gain will be valuable and necessary in your first few client/attorney meetings and you will be a step ahead of most.
If you have already hired an attorney, you may decide to hire me independently or your attorney can contact me directly. I am trained in Collaborative Divorce for those selecting that divorce process.
For those looking at a mediated divorce, mediators will often bring in a CDFA for one party and or as a financial neutral.
Many attorneys are just now discovering how valuable the information provided by a qualified CDFA - including powerful decision support tools, and analysis of multiple scenarios, and data gathering, benefits both you and your attorney. Discuss with your attorney.
You are an integral part of this process. You bring your hopes and dreams for your future and you bring the realities of your current "money" life. Wherever you are on the financial spectrum, from "I love every detail" to total opposite, "I have no idea about it and I prefer it that way". We will navigate it together.