Divorce Financial Planning in the Contexts of Litigation, Mediation and Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce

Divorce financial planning can take place in a variety of settings:

  1. The divorce financial planner can function either as an unbiased (neutral) consultant or resource for both parties in a divorce or separation or in a financial advisory capacity to only one of the parties.
  2. In either of these capacities, the divorce financial planner can potentially share information, analyses or opinions with either or both parties.  In an advocacy situation, sharing of such information requires written authorization from the individual or entity that hires the practitioner.  Other than disclosure authorized in this fashion, information, analyses or opinions are held in strictest confidence by the practitioner except  where required for licensing or compliance purposes or by law.
  3. In situations in which the divorce financial planner functions as an unbiased consultant or resource for both parties, the divorce financial planner is not automatically precluded from providing post-divorce or post-separation services to either or both parties (see collaborative divorce exception below).  Such services, however, must not be contemplated, anticipated or included in the divorce financial planning engagement.  In addition, the divorce financial planner is required to obtain written permission from both parties prior to providing such services and must always provide such services in a fashion subordinate to the best interests of the client.  This standard does not preempt ethical standards established by other disciplines.  For example, interdisciplinary collaborative divorce engagements specifically prohibit this particular practice, and members of the ADFP are required, both directly and indirectly, to abide by this policy.
  4. The divorce financial planner can function as an outside expert or as a member of a team.
  5. The divorce financial planner can provide a very broad or a very narrow range of divorce financial planning services.
  6. The divorce financial planner can provide divorce financial planning services in both contested and uncontested divorces.
  7. The divorce financial planner can provide divorce financial planning services in collaborative divorce, mediation, litigation and pro se (pro per) settings, in all of their respective models and variations.  Whatever the setting, and irrespective of whether there is a separate global agreement involving other professionals, the divorce financial planner should have a separate engagement letter defining the planner’s participation in the process. 
  8. The relationships a divorce financial planner has with other professionals in individual cases and his/her responsibilities, level of interaction with other participants or role in a team can vary even when settings appear similar, and these must be defined during the engagement process. 
  9. Irrespective of the setting, the divorce financial planning process, as defined above, is operative in all of these contexts and any variations of them.
  10. The role of the divorce financial planner in the divorce process is continuously evolving from that of outside expert to that of intimate team member.  The evolving role of the divorce financial planner in collaborative divorce is described in greater detail in the articles by Pauline Tesler contained in Appendix A.