Utilizing your Financial Advisor in a Divorce

 There are times in life when it’s best to just part ways. Someone once said that the most common reason of divorce was… wait for it… marriage. That’s the lighter side of what can be a very touchy subject. I recently attended a conference that gave me new insight into helping clients through the process.

Divorce Rate Statistics

Over 50% of married Americans have experienced divorce and for couples with a disabled child, the divorce rate jumps to 90%.  Experts say it comes down to stress and growing apart and divorce can provide a time to reflect and start over.

Some of these splits are amicable and, if they can be done with a clear head and fair planning, I believe that the financial costs can be reduced in a material way. But this is also a very emotional time and it’s even more difficult to keep a level head when emotions run their course. It can help to have an intermediary who understands both parties and the finances.

Dividing Assets

Consider a situation where there are multiple pensions, IRAs, retirement plans with old employers, education funding, vehicles and joint accounts … plus a home and other personal property. Well, try to take a deep breath and tackle one item at a time.  Place each item in a category and deal with them one by one (i.e. income from pensions can be handled by a lump sum, income from one spouse to another for some fixed period of time or through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) process). 

  • Asset value differences and the tax implications can be aligned to provide for a fair split
  • Qualified plans can be combined with IRAs to simplify things in some cases
  • Liquidity can be generated from qualified plans without penalty
  • Properties and tangible possessions can be appraised and split
  • Social security differences are typical and can be managed

My best piece of advice is to talk to each other, come to an understanding of values, and arrange things fairly prior to talking with your attorney. Once you’ve done that, go and ask for their advice on what you might be missing.  If you can, utilize your Certified Financial Planner to best organize the items above because they already understand the money issues and can help to potentially reduce your legal fees considerably.

Matthew E. Chope, CFP ® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Matt has been quoted in various investment professional newspapers and magazines. He is active in the community and his profession and helps local corporations and nonprofits in the areas of strategic planning and money and business management decisions. In 2012 and 2013, Matt was named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine.


Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

This materials is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal advice. C14-017271