Divorce Financial Research & Analytics

Mark Stephenson, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Professional (CDFA®)

Mark Downtown



When a person is considering or currently going through a divorce, they will deal with the emotional stress of separating from their spouse as well as face worrisome and complicated financial issues. As much as any other time, it is vital to get professional financial help with money decisions that will have lifelong consequences.

As a Springfield Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Professional (CDFA®), I help clients and their attorneys understand how the divorce agreement will impact their future financial stability. This includes identifying the long-term effects of dividing marital property; valuing retirement, pension, and investment accounts; proposing alternative property division settlements; and reviewing financial information to project how much money is needed to maintain one’s lifestyle after divorce.

Financial problems can tear a marriage apart and are one of the primary factors that lead to divorce. Once a decision to separate or divorce has been reached, all sorts of questions bubble to the surface. These questions are often clouded by wounded emotions and accompanied by mutual accusations. If a couple cannot solve their financial difficulties while the marriage was underway, it is unlikely that they will be able to agree on pressing financial issues once it has fallen apart.

Many divorcing couples have questions such as:

  • Where will the children live?
  • Who will pay for their education and medical treatment?
  • How do we value our property?
  • Who gets what property?
  • With what tax issues must we be concerned?
  • How do we divide retirement funds and pensions?
  • How will the lower-earning spouse survive financially?
  • What additional financial support does that person need?
  • Who gets the house?

Close-up of a businessman with a newspaper, cup of coffee and a tablet


These are the questions that family law lawyers face with each divorce case. However, most lawyers do not handle the intricate financial details that concern tax issues, capital gains, dividing pensions, and so on. Lawyers attend law school to become experts in the law, not to become financial experts. Additionally, even if the lawyer happens to have accumulated a degree of financial expertise, he or she is not allowed to testify on behalf of their clients in court. This is why more and more lawyers have seen the virtue of bringing a financial expert into the divorce process at the very start. Solid information and expert analysis are important resources in their search for the best possible resolutions for their clients.

CDFA® Professionals’ Responsibilities and the Team Approach

My role as a CDFA® professional is to help both the client and lawyer understand how the financial decisions made today will impact the client’s financial future, based on certain assumptions. As a CDFA® professional, I am familiar with tax issues that apply to divorce, have background knowledge of the legal issues in divorce, and am trained to interview clients so as to:

  • Collect financial and expense data
  • Help clients identify their future financial goals
  • Develop a post-divorce budget
  • Set retirement objectives
  • Identify what kind of lifestyle they want and can afford post-divorce
  • Determine the costs of their children’s education

Once I become part of the divorce team, I provide litigation support for the lawyer and client and will be responsible for:

  • Identifying the short- and long-term effects of dividing property
  • Integrating tax issues
  • Analyzing pension and retirement plan issues
  • Determining if the client can afford the matrimonial home—and if not, what might be an affordable alternative
  • Evaluating the client’s insurance needs
  • Establishing assumptions for projecting inflation and rates of return
  • Bringing an innovative and creative approach to settling cases
  • Providing the client and lawyer with data that shows the financial effect of any given divorce settlement
  • Appearing as an expert witness if the case should go to court or in mediation or arbitration proceedings