Sunday, April 21, 2002


Let a divorce planner guide you through your financial concerns


A story published today by the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that with the growing number of Americans getting divorced every year, a new service calling themselves divorce planners have surfaced. These specialists, who are usually certified financial planners or certified public accountants as well, are trained to help clients understand the financial implications of getting divorced and to make certain they don't get shortchanged.

"Everybody has financial issues in divorce," says Hill, who is also a certified financial planner with Lockwood Pacific Investment Group in Carmel Valley. Hill says clients shouldn't necessarily expect their attorneys, who are experts in the law, to understand complex financial matters.

Financial advisers used to stand on the sidelines and wait until the dust settled after the divorce, says Steven S. Hansen, a certified divorce planner with Comprehensive Financial Group in the Golden Triangle.

Now there's a growing realization that people should understand the consequences of selling the family home or splitting a pension.

Hansen and Hill are two of only a handful of divorce planners in San Diego County certified through the Institute for Certified Divorce Planners, which is based in Southfield, Mich. Since 1993, the institute has accredited 500 planners nationwide; 700 more are in training.

Divorce planners stress that they are not looking to replace attorneys. They want to work with them and, in fact, many of their referrals come from attorneys.

Planners say their clients are not necessarily affluent. Some are middle-class people who want to ensure they're going to be fine after the divorce.

A divorce planner provides a long- range plan showing how a divorcing spouse could live though more modestly perhaps and eventually retire.

Cinda Jones, a certified divorce planner who is also a certified financial planner with WM Financial Services, a Washington Mutual company in the Mission Bay area, has been helping individuals going through divorce for the past 10 years. She says understanding the financial consequences and being in a better position to negotiate can help take the anger out of the divorce settlement: "It puts people in the driver's seat."





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