Divorce and Financial Planning and Investigation
Divorce can have a devastating financial impact. And with the divorce rate in this country hovering around 50 percent, a lot of people need to think seriously about their finances when it happens to them. Anyone who has gone through a divorce knows just how scary and overwhelming it can really be.
Most people get so caught up in the emotions of what’s going on that they spend little or no time properly planning for their financial future. By doing this, they may end up struggling with financial complications for decades or settle for far less than what they could have. Instead, a lot of people are now hiring a neutral party to scrutinize the financial statements of the relationship and come up with a solid plan. Those being hired to do this are usually certified divorce financial analysts.
“I’m someone who has been through a divorce,” says Timothy McNamara, a CDFA who owns McNamara Financial Strategies Group, of Wachovia Securities, located in Waltham, Mass. “I know firsthand just how financially devastating the crisis can be. That’s why I have made it my mission to help others avoid financial destruction. It’s very important, when going through a divorce, to surround yourself with experienced experts such as the invaluable matrimonial attorney, mediator and therapist.”
Hiring a CDFA is not a replacement for or a mediator; rather, they work together to benefit the client. McNamara, along with his partner, Tracey Manzi, a chartered financial analyst, analyzes the financial numbers and creates powerful spreadsheets that are a key component in helping the matrimonial attorney to make sense out of the client’s financial status. They are a neutral party that helps their clients understand the financial impact of a proposal so they can accept the most favorable settlement. They simplify their matrimonial attorney’s lives by gathering and sorting through the mountains of financial statements that include years of tax returns and months of check registers. All this is done in an effort to prepare the most important document in a divorce, the statement of net worth.
“In the rare event a client’s divorce goes to trial, this is the most important document ever prepared in the eyes of a judge who will be reviewing this one piece,” says McNamara. “Often attorneys try to prepare this document themselves or even worse, delegate it to their paralegal staff who has no training in divorce finance and does not know what to look for with every number being entered on a line.”
“There are many financial areas that people need to seriously go over when it comes to divorce,” says McNamara. “They often are so caught up in everything going on that they overlook something. We look at everything, including both personal and business tax returns, dividing pension plans, continued health care coverage and how to decide what coverage choice to make, stock options, and more. We make sure that everything is examined and no stone goes unturned, so that neither person is left without their fair share. Our specialty is to forecast the long-term effects of the settlement.”
An important fact that McNamara points out is that lawyers attend law school to become experts in law, not to become financial experts. Many people are learning how important it is to hire a qualified analyst to thoroughly investigate the financial situation during a divorce. If something is overlooked by the attorney, it could end up costing the person thousands of dollars – even millions – over a lifetime. Clients using the savvy of a CDFA get great results and a quick resolution, and their attorneys avoid malpractice.
“Most individuals, even those who are financially savvy, cannot and do not make good financial decisions during this grave period,” says McNamara. “In fact, in that situation, most individuals make such poor decisions that they feel the effects for the rest of their financial lives. People only have one chance to get it right, and we are here to help make sure that happens.”
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The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program is a Federal/state/tribal partnership, to help strengthen families and reduce welfare dependency by ensuring that parents live up to the responsibility of supporting their children. Many families have been able to remain self-sufficient and off public assistance due to the services received from the Child Support Enforcement program. State, local and tribal child support agencies locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity when necessary, establish orders for support and collect child support payments for families.
All states and some tribes run a child support enforcement program, either in the Human Services Department or Department of Revenue, often with the help of prosecuting attorneys, district attorneys, other law enforcement agencies and officials of family or domestic relations courts.
The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement provides funding and services to the states, some tribes, and other jurisdictions to ensure their success in serving families who need financial support from a non-custodial parent. Child support enforcement services are available automatically for families receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In addition, child support services are available to families not receiving TANF who apply for such services, as well as, families who were formerly on TANF. Current child support payments collected on behalf of former TANF families are distributed to the families. Child support payments collected on behalf of non-TANF families are also forwarded to the families.
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