When I tell people what I do, I say I help people have a kinder, less fearful, more affordable and financially guided (or smart) divorce. Working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) is a smart solution for having an affordable divorce, and this is why.

  • Where I live, the typical family law attorney retainer is $5,000.00.  Multiply that by 2 (one for each party), and that’s $10,000, non-refundable, just to start.

  • Attorneys in my area normally bill at $250-$300 per hour.  Where you live it could be more.

  • Resolving child custody in court is so wrong minded, and in North Carolina, mediation is required before child custody can go to trial.  I recommend to my clients who cannot come to an agreement to work with one of the skilled family and child therapists that I can refer them to, or cut to the chase and go straight to a mediator.  They can then come back to me with that agreement in hand and we can proceed with the financial settlement.

  • If you can’t avoid hiring an attorney, one of the first steps will be to provide all of your financial documents so that a Financial Affidavit can be prepared.  (Note:  Financial Affidavits go by different names in different states, It might be called a Case Information Statement, a Financial Declaration, or a Statement of Net Worth.) I can prepare the Financial Affidavit at a much lower hourly rate, saving you money.

  • Speaking of Financial Affidavits, attorneys aren’t likely to review the information you give them with a fine toothed comb. While that will save you money, this is an area where you want a thorough job done.   Most family law attorneys tell me this is the task they dread.  Attorneys hate finance, that’s why they went to law school!   While expenses like mortgages and car payments aren’t likely to be missed, it’s the miscellaneous expenses, like membership dues, that once a year house termite inspection, parking and Uber, tickets to movies, music and plays, that people forget or don’t realize they should list.   These things can add up and if you don’t include them in as an expense, it can affect the outcome of your case.  This attention to detail is where a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can more than pay for his or her hourly rate.   In North Carolina, one of the relevant factors for determining alimony is the standard of living, so your marital lifestyle, and the related expenses, should be reflected in your Financial Affidavit. A CDFA can help assure your Financial Affidavit is complete.

  • If your divorce is more acrimonious but you would still like to save money in a divorce and settle, consider hiring a CDFA/mediator team.  A CDFA, like Mary Salisbury, can handle the financial part and the mediator can handle the negotiations.

  • Collaborative Divorce beats a litigated divorce any day, just for the emotional aspects.  But the process is still expensive.  In my city, the local collaborative group advertises that it takes 8-12 two hour negotiating sessions to settle.  That’s at least $8000-$12000, plus the time both attorney’s take to prepare.  I allow my clients to settle at their pace, which is often within 2-3 hours.

  • If you have to hire an attorney, check out this article on the importance of finding the right lawyer.