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Sunday, Nov 27, 2022
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Analyst Examines Divorce Finances

Jennifer Caruso, a financial advisor at Manchester Financial Inc. in Westlake Village, recently earned her divorce financial analysis certification and is now working with clients to explain the immediate and long-term monetary impacts of a divorce. “Unfortunately, divorce (nationally) is still over 50 percent and here in the state of California it’s even higher. And second divorces are about 60 percent. There are plenty of women who need this help, and men as well,” said Caruso. When a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is brought on – often by a client’s attorney or mediator – it serves three purposes. First is to help determine an equitable division of assets — and it isn’t always an even 50-50 split. The CDFA represents no one and makes no recommendations during this process. She simply lays out the financial data and presents options. Attorneys then make recommendations to their clients. The length of this job depends on the length of the parties’ negotiations, which can take weeks, months or even years. Second, a CDFA can help a divorcee make decisions pertaining to financial support once the division of property has been determined – for example, whether to receive alimony on a monthly basis or to instead receive a lump sum payment. The CDFA would crunch the numbers and present a financial outcome of each choice. And finally, should a divorce escalate to litigation, the CDFA could be questioned as a witness, though most divorce cases are resolved before that. “This is a newer area that not all attorneys and mediators are aware of,” said Caruso. “I went through a divorce in 2012 and at the time (CDFAs were) not heard of at all.” Caruso earned her certification in May after completing an education program administered by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. The training consisted of four self-study modules covering the basics of divorce, the financial aspects of the process, related tax issues and more, each concluding with an exam. The program only accepts enrollment from people with three or more years of professional experience in finance. Caruso is now involved in preliminary work with a female client who needs to decide how much alimony to give to her ex-spouse. She can provide CDFA services for the general public but not existing Manchester Financial clients — to do so would be a conflict of interest, she said. Caruso is Manchester Financial’s second employee to become a CDFA, following senior financial planner Laura Navarro. The two are leading Manchester’s Women in Financial Transitions program — a means of empowering women with the knowledge needed to maintain financial stability during turbulent times, be that divorce, retirement, death of a spouse or a career change.

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