About Sally J. Boyle
Sally Boyle is committed to helping you have a smarter divorce. A member of the Institute For Divorce Financial Analysis, she supports collaborative law that encourages cooperation.
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Just like each of the people in a relationship, every divorce has it's own, distinctive personality.
Most divorces are assets and income being separated simply in an effort to be fair and just. But sometimes, a divorce may be more complicated.
For example, in some divorces one party might be trying to hide assets or income from their spouse.
Uncovering them becomes the challenge. Other divorces may involve use and/or abuse of the soon-to-be ex-spouse’s separate property. Returning the property becomes an issue. Finally, some divorces see an actual dissipation of assets due to abuses like extramarital affairs, gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, or other bad behaviors. It becomes necessary to quantify the damages and attempt to restore them to the injured party.
To quote a colleague, lifestyle analysis is not limited to the rich and famous.
It has wide applications even to those of more moderate wealth. When a couple decides to file for divorce, lifestyle analysis is important. It represents the systematic reconstruction of income/expense inflows and outflow pre- and post-separation.
Lifestyle analysis establishes the parties’ marital standard of living, using is as a benchmark in reaching a divorce settlement.
Many recent court judgments underscore a number of universal needs concerning lifestyle analysis. Litigants, divorce attorneys and family court judges must understand and appropriately consider “lifestyle.” Then it’s critical to develop a uniform approach to analyzing marital lifestyle, conveying the data to one’s adversary and ultimately, to the court.
Lifestyle analysis has similarities to forensic accounting.
The assumption can be that this is a job for an accountant. However, one can argue that Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) is better suited for this work. Most of us are also Financial Advisors. We have training and experience in looking to past earning and spending habits, and also looking ahead to determine if our client can afford to maintain the marital standard of living. If they’re not, we can help them re-imagine their future lifestyle and how to plan for living fully within their future finances.
Depending on the client and the objectives that the situation demands, lifestyle analysis can accomplish different things.
Commonly, we most often imagine the analysis being used for finding ways to maximize support, even if it requires using assets beyond earned income. But when earned income is expected rise substantially, lifestyle analysis can also be used to limit future support increases.
The objectives can change, but the process of analysis remains the same.
It generally involves the time period immediately before separation. The longer the time period, the more credible the report. The data gathering is consistent, and looks at various common components:
Understandably, collecting and entering this data, categorizing it and analyzing it might seem cumbersome.
Fortunately, as CDFAs, we have tools to simplify it. For instance, optical character recognition software used in developing spreadsheets makes the process simpler. And once we’ve done the analysis, that’s when all parties meet (attorney or mediator, clients and advisors) to discuss any adjustments, outlying expenditures, incomes and conclusions the analysis suggests.
Lifestyle analysis is a useful tool in the divorce process.
It offers both parties an objective way to demonstrate need. In litigation, it allows a judge to determine the credibility of the reason for a support request. Lifestyle analysis might sound like a tool for the rich and famous. But at the end of the day, it’s just about the numbers. That makes it a useful tool in answering the important financial questions the come with divorce.
Want to know more about lifestyle analysis in financial planning for a smarter divorce?
You can learn more about The Better Half, or schedule a free consultation, by clicking here.