What Is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)?

The Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) designation is a professional certification for financial analysts who work with clients going through a divorce.

The CDFA credential signifies that the holder has met specific education and experience requirements, and has passed a certification exam.

The Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA) oversees the CDFA designation, credentials, and the application process.

The organization’s goal is to improve, simplify, and harmonize financial analysis for divorcing couples throughout the world.

They accomplish this by creating standards of practice, providing ethics guidance, supporting continuing education programs, and encouraging high standards in personal integrity among Divorce Financial Analysts.

What Services Do They Provide?

A certified divorce financial analyst helps you split marital assets fairly, prepares a comprehensive financial analysis of your post-divorce lifestyle to determine whether or not you can maintain the same standard of living, and negotiates with your ex-spouse to find an acceptable agreement.

They help you analyze assets like:

  • Real Property: This includes the marital home, vacation homes, and rental properties.
  • Personal Property: This includes cars, boats, jewelry, and anything else of value.
  • Businesses: If one spouse owns a business, it will need to be evaluated during the divorce proceedings.
  • Retirement Accounts: 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts will need to be divided between the two spouses.
  • Insurance Policies: Life insurance, disability insurance, and other policies will need to be evaluated.
  • Income: This includes salaries, commissions, bonuses, and other forms of income.
  • Expenses: This includes child care, alimony, health care costs, and other expenses.

They can also help divorcing spouses formulate realistic post-divorce budgets, so they can ensure they’re able to live comfortably after the divorce is finalized.

They work with a client’s personal financial advisor or accountant to help revise tax withholding in order to maximize after-divorce net pay.

In the event that one spouse is at a substantial disadvantage when it comes to retirement savings, a CDFA can work with them and their lawyer to formulate a fair alimony request.

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Qualifications

In finding CDFA, here are some of the qualifications they must meet:

Education

They must complete a course of study from an accredited college or university that includes at least 60 hours of instruction.

Experience

They must have two years of professional experience in the financial analysis field, working for a third party such as a law firm, accounting firm, financial planning company, non-profit organization , university professor or researcher, insurance company, or government agency.

Experience must be in the financial analysis field, not merely clerical work.

Professional Practice

They must pass a written exam that tests their knowledge of divorce finance and family law.

Ethics

They must agree to abide by an ethics code that protects clients’ best interest, ensures confidentiality, and forbids taking advantage of a client’s situation.

CDFA Designation

To retain the CDFA designation, they must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years, maintain a current CPR certification, and remain up to date on best practices in the field.

How Much Does a CDFA Charge?

The cost of a CDFA will depend on the location, individual’s experience and expertise, as well as how long they work with you.

In general, expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 for their services.

Hourly rates may range from:

  • $250/Hour = Competitive Rate
  • $190/Hour = Standard Rate
  • $120/Hour = Lowest Common Rate Charged by CDFA Professionals

CDFA’s are often experienced divorce lawyers themselves, so they don’t necessarily charge for their legal services on top of their financial planning fees.

For those who aren’t able to afford these costs upfront, some CDFAs offer payment plans or a sliding scale that will accommodate your budget.

Why Would You Need To Hire a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?

If you’re going through a high-net-worth divorce, or if there are a lot of marital assets to be divided, it’s a good idea to hire a certified divorce financial analyst.

They have the education and experience necessary to help you get through the divorce proceedings as smoothly and fairly as possible.

They can help you understand the financial implications of your divorce, so you can make informed decisions about what’s best for you and your family. They can also work with your ex-spouse to negotiate a fair settlement.

If you’re considering hiring a CDFA, get in touch with several professionals and ask for references. Interview them to find the one that’s the best fit for your needs.

The Bottom Line

CDFAs are experts in the field of divorce finance, and certified professionals ensure you’re getting high-quality services.

If you want to work with someone who has a grasp on your financial situation, hiring a CDFA is a good idea.

They can help you understand how divorce may impact your finances long after the legal proceedings are over.

They can also work with you and your ex-spouse to ensure a fair settlement that meets both of your needs.

The CDFA designation is a professional certification for divorce financial analysts. It is administered by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA).
CDFAs can provide a wide range of services, including analyzing your financial situation, reviewing your divorce settlement, or just offering general guidance on financial issues that are specific to your situation.
To earn the designation, a financial professional must have at least 5 years of experience working with high-net-worth individuals. They must also pass an exam administered by the IDFA to demonstrate knowledge in divorce finance and family law. To retain their certification, CDFAs need to participate in 40 hours of continuing education every two years.
Fees charged by CDFAs vary depending on the individual's experience, expertise, and location. However, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 for their services.
If you need financial guidance while going through a divorce, or want to make sure your settlement is fair and reflects your needs, hiring a CDFA can be helpful. It's common for high-net-worth individuals to hire one for these types of situations. Having someone with expertise in finance and legal proceedings involved in the process ensures you'll make the most informed decisions possible.

Disclaimer: The above references an opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.