17 Apr How working with CDFA makes a difference in Divorce

I believe one of the most important roles I have, as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)  is  providing a reality check for my clients before , during and after divorce. I am pragmatic and not judgmental. I take the words in settlement agreements and turn them into numbers.  .

Firstly,  I do this  by having a systematic approach  for  pulling together the financial numbers  and information that  they need to start separation discussions whether the are working in mediation, collaboration or traditional negotiations.

Secondly,  I’m focused on finding solutions that work in both the short and long term.  I create projections based on clients goals and possible settlement options , whether that be proceeds from sale of their house , impact of  varies duration and levels of support, impact of future income and savings. These projections  educate and show clients  the  future implications of  what is being proposed. They also show the  the impact of  other decisions clients  have control .

I had a client who was the main breadwinner of the family. She went back to school to upgrade her skills when her husband was downsized from  his corporate job. She found a very well paying position and  has had a number of promotions since starting at  her company. Her husband  found it difficult to get back into the workforce in his previous role. Discouraged, he  started a small consulting practice  but wasn’t having much success in getting clients.  When they decided to separate, her income was substantially more than his. She was very resentful of having to make Spousal Support payments to her husband.  This looked like it was going to stall the settlement negotiations.  I worked with her to understand her current & future spending, her future income   and have her see the impact of various levels of support. I helped her set priorities going forward.  Once  she could see into her financial future,  she agreed to a spousal support payment schedule she  and her spouse could live with  as she now  felt confident about her own financial future.

28 Mar Your Housing Options after Divorce Just improved

Major banks in Canada recently announced a reduction to their fixed rate mortgages. It seems bank executives are more confident about the housing market and the likelihood of a major correction in housing prices.

This should provide good news for people who are separating and making decisions of how they split their assets, in particular, the matrimonial home. For many, keeping the house is important for couples with children and keeping a stable environment for them. For older couples, whether they choose to buy a partner out and remain in the matrimonial home or sell and each purchase a new home, lower interest rates allow for more flexibility when it comes to possible settlement options.

Managing two households costs more than maintaining one household. With late in life divorce, retirement plans are greatly affected by housing costs.

Many people finance equalization payments owing to spouses through refinancing existing mortgages, so lower mortgage rates in those situation helps.

If selling the matrimonial home is part of a settlement plan, lower mortgage rates make home buying more attractive. If keeping the matrimonial home is an option, managing cash flow is easier with lower monthly mortgage payments.

The home you want to keep or the home you want to buy after divorce may
now be a real possibility.

14 Sep Joys of Home Ownership… Or not

 

Elise (not her real name) was happy when she ended up as the sole owner of the family home as a result of her divorce property settlement. But getting the family home in a settlement isn’t always the best thing.

Located in a nice neighborhood, the home was valued at more than half a million dollars. The property had increased 4 fold since she and her ex-husband purchased it some 18 years ago.

Elise needed a mortgage to secure the home, but the monthly payment was well within her budget (or so she thought). She wanted to keep the house to minimize the impact of the divorce on her two kids, avoiding changing schools and uprooting friendships. “There’s no way I’d ever be able to find another home as nice as this one,” she told me.

Less than one year after the divorce, things started falling apart. First, the furnace needed to be replaced — a $900 expense, which she charged to her VISA card. Then, a leaky roof  needed to be replaced — $1,600,  which also went on her credit card. That spring, the fence along one side of her property fell down after a big storm and upon examination, it was discovered that the main posts were rotting so guess what, a unplanned new fence went up  while she was on vacation with the kids. (the fence and the vacation went on her  line of credit ). She wondered what might come next.

Then, toward the end of summer, her washer failed. Because the warranty had expired a year earlier, it made  more sense to buy a new, more energy efficient washer for $1200 than paying the $500 repair bill.

Her debt was piling up. Before she knew it, her credit card and line of credit debt had grown from zero to more than $21,000, all since the divorce.  Small repairs and routine maintenance  expenses never seem to stop  (like hiring someone to do lawn  and snow removal that her husband had done before)

I routinely call Elise to see how she’s doing and she voiced her concerns about the house which was approaching a point where more costly repairs might also become necessary.  I told her she had to consider the possibility she might be best off  selling this house and move to a newer home requiring less maintenance. I recommended she get a home inspection by a licensed home inspector while she considered her options. She knew she couldn’t sell it and get what she wanted for it without first doing some of repairs.  I called two realtors to get independent market appraisals. I requested assessments both with and without the repairs. Both agents agreed the repairs were necessary and would generate a higher selling price that would more than cover her costs. Elise concentrated on the things that most potential buyers focus on (the roof, new paint job and new tiles in the bathroom). The realtor also took her around and showed here what newer homes were available in the neighbourhood. With information provided by the realtor re selling and buying options, I was able to provide Elise with a budget of future housing costs. I showed her how she could pay off all her debt, putting herself in a far more comfortable financial position going forward.

The repairs were completed quickly. The house sold a few weeks after listing it. She and her kids moved to a lovely new home in the same neighbourhood. Elise later told me that moving to a new home was actually a great relief as it represented the fresh start she needed to move beyond the divorce. Having the right numbers and information paid off for her.  A Divorce Financial Professional can help you get the right numbers and information before you sign your settlement agreement which may lead to an even greater pay off for you.

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

04 Sep “Dis” Orientation – Start of school and divorce

Traditionally, autumn is a boom season for divorce, particularly for couples, who wait out the summer at the cottage before returning home to cut their marital ties. Many couples considering splitting decide to wait until after the holidays to break the news to their children. How are these parents going to approach their separation or divorce – and how will it affect their children?  
Obviously school-year separations can be difficult for school-age children. Parents need to bend over backwards to minimize the changes and transitions in their child’s life so as to keep school-related schedules, after-school activities, playtime with friends and other routines as much the same as possible.  

Parents with university aged children face the additional burden of having kids who are moving away from home.  The added stress of dealing with ever increasing tuition costs and related school expenses makes divorce at this stage more complex.

As couples work through their separation agreement, they should be aware of the many financial issues that affect them and their children beyond the traditional items of child support.

They should be considering such things as:

  • Is there enough savings set aside for tuition and room& board expenses
  • How will any shortfall be funded by each parent?
  • Who manages any RESP plan set up for the student?
  • What additional expenses will students/parents incur as a result of parents living apart
  • Who will benefit from any tuition tax credit available to transfer to a parent

Sending kids off to university is an exciting and challenging time for both students and parents alike.  Dealing with divorce at this stage in your family’s life adds additional challenges.   If you need help sorting through the financial issues around these issues, we may be in the position to help.

14 Oct Being a “material girl” may be hard on your marriage

In a  recent study, researchers found that materialism was harmful to marriage.  Authors of the study said being “materialistic”   could lead some people to spend more than they can afford, creating debt and financial stress.   The study had couples complete a questionnaire that included a  self report on how much he or she values “having money and lots of things.”  The study said that couples which both reported not caring about money (about 14%) scored 10 -15% higher on marriage stability.

There may be truth in this study.. many  of my clients  say the main reason  for their decision to separate is based   not on how much or how little money they have but differing attitudes about money and what money means to them.
When considering separation,  do you think about what  money means to you?