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Call today to arrange a meeting.
1 (902) 393-1248
P.O. Box 1201     Charlottetown, PE     C1A 7M8
T: (902) 393-1248 (direct)     CorkumFinancial@pei.sympatico.ca     www.CorkumFinancial.ca

My Financial Divorce Counselling Services

Unable to meet in person? We can meet in a confidential Zoom meeting by computer, or talk by telephone.  Use the Search box at the top right to find information on specific topics.

My Role

A financial professional, such a Chartered Professional Accountant or a Registered Financial Planner, is the specialist in money matters. A Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist has additional training from the Canadian-based Academy of Financial Divorce Specialists  in financial matters related to separation and divorce. (For my credentials and experience, see my Curriculum Vitae (a PDF file)).   In my opinion, having financial issues dealt with by a specialist in finances rather than a legal expert is more efficient. The figures are provided to your lawyer, your mediator or by yourself for use in negotiations and decision-making.

The financial professional first plays the role as “fact finder” and “educator” with respect to the money issues.  After your interests and needs are determined, the financial professional can offer options that lead to fair solutions. This helps you understand your current financial situation as well as the future impact of your financial decisions.

Assistance that I can provide include the following (see the exclusions listed afterwards):

  • Education – Get answers to your financial questions and explanations the importance of money issues so that you understand the implications of your negotiating positions.  It is also important to understand financial implications before accepting offers from your former partner.  For the types of information you should know, see “Questions to Ask about Divorce and Separation Financial Topics at Your First Meeting.” You may also wish to read my article titled, “Overview of Separation and Divorce Issues“, as well as my other Articles  and Useful Links that my be relevant to you.  Get whatever free information you can get before buying it.
  • Child and/or spousal support – I will determine income for you and your former partner based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines, which is used to determine child and/or spousal support.  This is based on personal tax returns and corporate business financial statements.
  • Advice on preparation of family property and liability listings – Guiding you on completion of family asset and liability listings needed for separation and divorce, and explaining how to determine and document values.  I will give you information about how to do this and guide you in the directions you need to go, but I am no longer accepting assignments to prepare all the documents needed by your lawyer to proceed to court.
  • Assisting your advisers in mediation and collaborative negotiations as a neutral financial professional for you and your former partner.

There are also services I can not or do not offer, as follows:

  • If you are planning to court, I am not accepting clients who need documents prepared for use in a court trial. I am willing to answer questions, assist you in preparing your own documents,  and provide you with clarification on related financial matters, but you should look elsewhere for an expert witness for a trial.
  • Forensic accounting – If you are accusing your partner of not reporting all of his or her business income on tax returns or having assets hidden in foreign countries or in other people’s names, you may need a forensic accountant.  I do not provide this service.
  • Asset valuations – For net family property listings, you need to report assets at their value at time of separation (or sometimes a trial date).  For certain values, you will need specialists, such as a real estate appraiser for your house and property, a Chartered Business Valuator for business values, and an actuary for valuations of lifetime work pensions.  I do not provide these services.
  • One-sided and biased opinions – I only provide objective and independent opinions to the best of my ability.  If you want biased opinions to get more than your fair share (or to get revenge), I am not your person.  Warning – very few people are happy with the results of their negotiations, regardless of how fair – payers feel they are paying too much, and recipients feel they are receiving too little.  The fact is that, based on statistics, both parties need to learn to live with a reduction in their standard of living by 25% or more…which is not an easy adjustment.

One piece of advice – you should feel comfortable with your professional team, be able to be open in your discussions and have trust they are acting in your best interests.  Feel free to interview several people if you do not have such comfort.  Your team should be trying to reach a fair and reasonable settlement for you (and your children).  Trying to reach extreme financial or custody arrangements that will unjustly harm the other party will likely be unsuccessful, and significantly increase your fees, often by tens of thousands of dollars (that is not a typo)My experience is that litigation becomes expensive, frustrating, and psychologically harms every0ne, especially children and future family relationships; ultimately, neither spouse “wins.”  Unfortunately, it only takes one unreasonable person and a willing legal team to create this situation.

My Service Approach

Overview

For marriage breakdown assignments, the method of delivery from your financial divorce professional will depend on whether they are working as a neutral financial professional in a collaborative practice or mediation case, or whether they are representing one specific party in their settlement negotiations. The main difference is that they will work together with both partners, often at the same time, in a collaborative or mediation case, whereas otherwise they will be working with just one party and his or her lawyer. Obviously working together with both parties at the same time will reduce costs, and likely a better solution with which you both can work with in the future on a cooperative basis.

I am selective in the type of engagements, with these considerations:

  • My preference is working as a neutral person for couples working together, by themselves, with mediators, or in a collaborative process.  I am not interested in participating in a litigation process, but I am open to discussing your particular situation;
  • I will only work with honest individuals who are willing to disclose all of their financial information to me.  I need not know about non-financial matters, such as the reasons for your separation.  For example, if you have unreported income, which is often more obvious than people think, I expect you to disclose it to me so that I can assist you in reaching the right answers.
  • If you are a member of a defined benefit pension plan, i.e. a work pension that you will receive for the rest of your life based on your income, I will expect you to have it professionally valued by a pension valuator (actuary), except in very unusual situations, which typically costs about $800.00.  See my article on pension valuation to understand why this is important to reach a fair settlement.

My Approach

My services focus on parties who are cooperating and wish to settle out of court.  Cooperation reduces the costs, often by tens of thousands of dollars, and decreases the emotional impact and related health issues.  Perhaps most importantly, working together towards a fair solution improves ongoing relationships with any children that are involved, protecting their emotional stability; studies have shown that they will perform better in school as well.

If you are already headed to the courtroom, I am very willing to express my opinions from an educational viewpoint.  I am willing to answer questions, assist you in preparing your own documents,  and provide you with clarification on related financial matters, but you should look elsewhere for an expert witness for a trial.  Where I do assist, my written materials provided to you are typically marked “without prejudice”, meaning they would not be admissible to court as evidence.

Before my initial meeting with you, I will ask you to write down any questions and bring them with you. I will also suggest some financial information that you can collect and bring with you. See this article for the questions I think you may have, and my tentative agenda for a first meeting.  During that first meeting, I will answer your questions, review the data you have brought with you and provide you with a list of additional information to be collected.  See my checklist for property and debts, as well as detailed explanations for your needs for equalization as well as for support calculations.  I will explain these lists to you. In some cases, you may need assistance in collecting the information, and I can provide help as needed. For example, where do you find information on how much you make and spend? How do you get proper values for your assets, especially real estate, pensions and businesses? How is all this data summarized? What should you collect and what should your former partner collect? How does this all come together? The first meeting tends to be two to three hours.

At the end of the first meeting, we will determine next steps.  If you require further assistance, we will make a plan and schedule accordingly.  In a cooperative or mediation process, I would attend ongoing meetings with other professionals where the negotiation process unfolds and offer my input to find appropriate solutions.

Services That I Do Not or Will Not Provide

I am not a lawyer, and provide no legal advice. However, your provincial or territorial public legal education organization offers free legal information (not advice), which you can find “here.”  In PEI, we have the Community Legal Information Association (CLIA)(www.legalinfopei.ca) that offers free legal information in family law and many other areas, as well as a Lawyer Referral Service (Tel: 1-800-240-9798).  CLIA also publishes a brochure titled Resolving Conflict Outside of Court that explains different approaches to reaching agreement in marriage breakdown cases. Other useful information is available on CLIA’s web site on their Family Law Page. For example, for uncontested divorces, they have a “do-it-yourself” divorce kit (for a fee).  See the heading, “Conflict, Family Law and Divorce” on this page as well as the information on the right.

While I am neither a real estate appraiser, pension valuator nor Chartered Business Valuator, I understand these needs and can refer you to appropriate parties, if applicable, and interpret their reports.  Do not guess at values – the fees these professionals charge are reasonable and less than the cost of several hours of legal fees to argue over undetermined values.

Regardless of the divorce process that you follow, I recommend that you work with a family counsellor through this emotional and stressful time. A family counsellor, typically a social worker or a psychologist,  can help you explain your separation to your children, assist with a parenting plan, and, whether or not you have children, assist you deal emotionally with this process.  These professionals will help you understand and control your emotions, which will in turn, assist you in making sound decisions. To find experienced family professionals, see my Useful Links page (see the heading for Counsellors, Mediators…), or through a referral from your other advisors or contacts. The solution to reaching a fair separation without going to court (and spending tens of thousands of dollars) is to negotiate in good faith and to think objectively in spite of emotions.  To do this, you certainly need to deal with your feelings.

What I will not do is provide biased reporting to you, your partner or to the lawyers to achieve an unfair solution. You should know that resolution of financial issues in a marriage breakdown is difficult; emotional challenges are very significant; it will not be as easy to meet your living expenses in the future; and no solution will be perfect. Certain financial decisions will involve a choice within a range of possible answers, and my recommendations in such cases will explain these situations to guide you. In cases where partners are not cooperative, some “professionals” deliberately try to take advantage of the other party with manipulation of figures or by ignoring certain issues.  This may be done with the argument that they are doing so in order to obtain the best deal for their client.  Actually, unless one spouse and their lawyer are not well informed, all it does is prolong the time to reach a settlement, increase professional fees, and create more animosity between you and your former spouse (and negatively impact your children also).

Time and Fees

Many individuals have certain aspects of their separation that they wish to discuss, but have already completed much of the process, either by themselves or with lawyers or mediators. Typical questions relate specific issues on how assets are valued, the impact of income taxes, a review of a draft separation agreement for financial implications and personal budgeting concerns.  For a typical list of questions and topics, see “Questions to Ask about Divorce and Separation Financial Topics at Your First Meeting“.  These types of meetings are typically well focused, and last about two to three hours.  If you wish to have a written report, it usually takes me about an additional hour. My hourly rate is $245 per hour, plus applicable taxes.

From your educational perspective, the most surprising information my clients usually learn are:

  • the law is fairly clear on how most financial issues are decided, and if you cooperate you can usually reach the same answer as a judge will reach after an expensive legal battle.
  • people with a company or government pension have an asset worth a lot of money, and usually more than the valuation figure provided by your employer (which may be a benefit or a cost to you, depending on if you are the person with the pension or not). A pension valuator (at a cost of about $800) is typically worthwhile.
  • it is very difficult (expensive) to retain the family home.
  • it is often worthwhile to have real estate appraised rather than pay lawyers to argue over values
  • businesses may or may not have a value, depending on how much income they make and how much in assets/liabilities they own.
  • liabilities and assets are both divided based on the date of separation, with adjustments for certain items as amounts brought into the marriage, inheritances (if kept separate and apart), insurance proceeds, etc.
  • the cost of income taxes must be deducted from the value of your assets (such as RRSPs, real estate and investments).
  • the government will determine who is entitled to tax credits and Child Benefits based on custody arrangements – you cannot decide who gets these except in some very limited shared custody situations.

If you require ongoing help in preparation of your documents, additional time and costs will depend on your needs, and the more you are able to do yourself, the less the costs will be.  Fees add up quickly, and I have seen time of about 10 hours (just under $3,000 including taxes) and I have seen complex files with time of 35 hours or more ($10,000 or more).  Sometimes we can predict the costs, and other times we cannot – it usually depends on how  well you and your ex-partner are communication and cooperating.

Making an Appointment

You may telephone me to set up a meeting at 902-393-1248 or send me an email from my Contact Page. Note that I do have a busy schedule, and my office hours are only Tuesday to Thursdays.  I will return your call if I am not available when you telephone me (although it may be up to two business days), but if you do not hear back, call again – sometimes things go awry.  I am typically booking appointments four to six weeks into the future, and I take no new appointments for July and August. I do offer counselling to clients outside of the province, but, of course, face to face is usually easier. In such cases, I have an introductory phone call, ask people to mail / email / fax their documents to me, including my questionnaire and a list of written questions and objectives. We then communicate by telephone or using computer video software for an interview, if a visit is not possible, after I review the paperwork and after obtaining any necessary additional information. .

My Credentials

I am an hourly based fee only (i.e. fee for service) Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist and a financial planner. I have my CPA, CA (1978), as well as my financial planning, insurance and financial divorce counselling designations.  (To identify my credentials and learn more about them, you may click on them – CPA, CA, R.F.P.,CFP, CFDS, CLU, CHS).  However, although this is not normally an issue with respect to marriage breakdown, please note that I am a financial planner but I am not licensed to provide individual investment recommendations or to sell insurance products. If such a need arises, I am able to refer you to licensed brokers.  To maintain my objectivity and independence, I do not have established referral agreements with any specific individuals, and receive no referral fees, commissions or other such payments for my services. I have been practicing in the area of marriage breakdown since 1997 and you can review my experience and credentials here.