One of the most often asked question when someone is going through divorce is what financial documents do I need? Below is a checklist for clients to use so that all the important financial information is collected. Checklist for Separation and Divorce (a)
- I am not employed by any Bank, Trust or Insurance companies, I give you independent financial advice.
- I will never sell you a debt product such as a credit cards and lines of credits.
- I specialize in cash flow (disposable income) so for most of my clients we spend time understanding where your money is going each month and how to manage your money differently.
- When we work together we will examine both your short term and long term financial goals and create a plan unique to your situation not a one size fit all plan. A short plan may be saving for a house and a long term goal maybe saving for retirement.
- Your financial plan should be written down and it is not something that you put away and not look at again. When working with me we will review and update your plan on a regular basis. Especially when you have life changing events such as marriage, having children and a death in the family.
As a Financial Advisor who specializes in Cash Flow, many of my clients are entrepreneurs who wear multiple hats: CEO, Book Keeper, Sales manager, and HR manager. When I ask what their Cash Flow looks like many say that they often feel like they are “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and want it to stop.
One of the first questions I ask : Do you know what the break-even point is for your business? It is important to know this for several reasons. The most important is so that you know how much revenue you need to generate for any given month, without throwing in any extra ordinary expenses. What is that number for your business (not industry standards)? For example, if you are providing fee-for-services, you should know how many clients you need in a month to break-even. It is surprising how many entrepreneurs I meet who do not calculate this number until the end of the year and, in many cases, it is too late to properly plan.
When we choose to become entrepreneurs we give up the concept of job security and steady pay cheques. However, for many of my clients what we create is a set amount to pay yourself every month and no it is not based on your 3 best months of revenue. It is based on an average month for your business. This allows for you to plan for the months that are below average by allowing an accumulation of cash to build when your revenue is above average. Many financial plans go off the rails because the lack of cash due to the slow time of their business. When there is a problem with cash then what was allocated for the financial goals are not met. If you can get the Cash Flow under control it will help stop the “roller coaster ride” effect some entrepreneurs describe their Cash Flow. It is not always easy but the proper financial planning it can work.
Mediation allows all parties to come together in a non-judgmental environment where the mediator remains neutral. In this space all parties feel safe to share their interests and goals for a successful resolution. One of the key reasons parties are attracted to mediation is because it is private; what is discussed cannot be used in court.
The degree of success of a mediation is based on the level of transparency that all parties bring to the table. What usually attracts parties to mediation is the costs.
In a traditional process for resolving disputes each party hires a lawyer from the beginning and the parties stop communicating with each other. This process may result in going to court to resolve the dispute which will escalate costs. In mediation the parties share in the cost for the mediator. The cost depends on the number of meetings and the level of the cooperation of all parties, as well as the complexity of the dispute.
The agreement that is reached in a mediation is referred to as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The parties take the MOU to their lawyers for review and a legal document is created. Often, clients meet with a lawyer before the mediation so they know their rights and obligations.
There are many things in life that we plan for. We plan for graduation, our first job, our first car, the first home we purchase. We plan for marriage and, perhaps, children. However, most Nova Scotians—most Canadians even—never plan for the end of marriage. We’re especially unprepared for the end of long-term marriages, those that exceed 20 years.
Yet, according to Statistic Canada, divorce in Canada is on the rise and the demographic to experience the highest rate of increase is what is now referred to as the “Grey Divorce”—divorce between couples 55 and over.
In 2011, I decided to become a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. At the time, I’d been meeting many women who were divorced. Not only were their marriages over, these women were very disadvantaged financially following their divorces.
I saw an opportunity to help. The right training would allow me to intervene on behalf of these women before the damage was done. In other words, I could offer pre-divorce financial guidance. This would be much better than picking up the pieces post-divorce.
After 9 months and 3 very stressful (I mean, comprehensive) exams, I received my designation. What I found once I started my certified divorce financial analyst practise is that many people are misinformed about the financial ramifications of divorce. Not only the general public, but professionals as well. We may have the ability to Google everything, but the abundance of information for those in Nova Scotia going through divorce may be extremely daunting. Especially because the Matrimonial Act that applies in one province may not be applicable here in Nova Scotia and vice versa.
Even worse than the confusion brought about by the legal technicalities of divorce, is the emotional strain arising from the end of a 20 or 30 year union. Many people feel ashamed about having to go through a separation and/or divorce, therefore, they never reach out to the right professional.
In early 2012, I decided that in order to really empower women, I would offer not only my own professional input but I would ask for help from other professionals. This is how my collaborative divorce workshop for women was born. I am fortunate that in Nova Scotia there are many communities with great women willing to volunteer their time with this workshop. We are not offering these seminars in order to profit, we’re truly here to support women in Nova Scotia who need concrete advice and empathetic answers to the questions they’re not sure who to ask.
The workshops feature a female family lawyer who has specialized training as a Collaborative lawyer, Kerri Ann Robson from Shubenacadie, N.S. We have a family psychologist, Debra Garland, from Dartmouth, N.S. And myself, Angela Mercier, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst from Dartmouth, N.S. As we do not have any advertising budget, we try to spread the word via social media and through word-of-mouth.
The workshop is designed to educate and empower the women to make informed decisions, some of the topics discussed are the following:
What are my legal rights?
What are my options?
How do I help the kids?
What are the financial factors that are going to change?
Who should get the house?
How do I know my lawyer is right for me?
What do I ask my lawyer?
How do I know when the offer is right for me?
Who should attend these workshops?
-Women thinking of getting a divorce
-women in the middle of negotiating terms
-women struggling to make sense of what is happening to their families
-women wondering how to financially or psychologically restructure their lives
-The workshops are held every two months at various location in the HRM our next workshop is:
When: Friday May 9th, 2014
Where: Cole Harbour Place, Cole Harbour, NS
Time: 9:30am- 2:45pm
Lunch: Lunch is provided as well as parking for a fee of $30.00
As mentioned, the workshop is collaborative in nature but hosted by myself, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Angela Mercier.
To register contact: email@example.com or go to www.angelamercier.ca
Do not put your head in the sand when it comes to spending. Many business owners have come from the corporate world and were able to have a monthly expense account that someone else was looking after. This can cause over-spending and should be reviewed monthly. In many cases the spending is also justified because it is perceived as a tax write-off. I spent over 15 years in the automotive industry and there is a huge difference between a plain Jane F150 and a Lariat or Eddie Bauer. For you car enthusiasts, between a Corolla CE and a Mercedes 300!!! Make wise choices when spending, this is an integral part of a healthy Cash Flow.
Angela Mercier CDFA
Establish a monthly pay cheque. I understand that your cash flow fluctuates up and down. That is why this goes hand-in -hand with Tip # 3 – Cash Flow Statements. To assist any client, we need to know what money you can count on each month. It should not be based on your best 3 months it should be based on the average month for your business. It will help eliminate the bad habit that I see so often “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Stay tuned for Tip# 6
Angela Mercier CDFA
Don’t misuse HST/GST collected.
We have worked with several entrepreneurs who get behind in submitting their HST/GST because they have not kept the money separate and used it for something else. In some cases, I have seen their business accounts frozen by CRA. To prevent this, open up an account specifically for the HST/GST remittance. I recommend a business account that has a high daily interest rate and no monthly fees (yes, there is one out there designed specifically for business owners). While the money is sitting there, why not make some money on it?
Tip #5 will be next
Angela Mercier CDFA
Tip # 3
Make sure you have a Cash Flow statement. Why you ask? Since you already receive the balance sheet & income statement from your book Keeper or accountant . The balance sheet is a snapshot of a company’s financial resources and obligations at a single point in time, and the income statement summarizes a company’s financial transactions over an interval of time. The Cash Flow statement includes only the incoming and out going of cash and cash equivalents of your business; it excludes transactions that do not directly affect cash receipts and payments. The Cash flow statement should be generated regularly as it may help identify potential cash problems before they occur. It will allow you to be proactive rather than reactive when a cash issue is identified.
Tip # 4 will be next…
Angela Mercier CDFA