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Cheryl A. Dugas Ethier recently received the certified divorce-financial-analyst designation by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. Ethier is a financial planner at SK Wealth Management LLC and has a master’s of professional accountancy degree from Rhode Island College. In addition, she holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bryant University and has several other professional certifications.
PBN: Can you tell us more about the certified divorce-financial-analyst designation? What do you have to do to become a CDFA?
ETHIER: The Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is a professional certification granted in the United States and Canada by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. To attain the right to use the CDFA certification in the U.S., an individual must satisfactorily fulfill an education requirement, pass a four-part certification examination, satisfy the experience requirement and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. In addition, after meeting these requirements, the individual must complete 15 hours of continuing education every two years that is specifically related to the field of divorce.
PBN: Is this a certification that many financial planners look to earn?
ETHIER: A CDFA typically has a financial planning, accounting or legal background. Many CDFAs also have additional certifications, like CFP, CPA and other financial designations. The CDFA role is a natural extension of the financial planning profession as the role of a financial planner is to help people achieve their financial goals. The tools and processes of financial planning are very similar to divorce planning, but the issues can be very different. In a divorce, you’re looking at dividing assets, funding two households on the same income … and the various state statutes on divorce. CDFAs typically work with the individual’s attorney on a team approach to achieve the best result possible.
PBN: How will having this certification help you assist your clients?
ETHIER: It will allow me to … work with individuals or couples going through the divorce or mediation process with the goal of achieving financially fair settlements; the end result can mean the difference of success or failure for the remainder of their financial life. Working with a CDFA during the divorce process helps the individual to make informed decisions. •