The Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) Program is designed to prepare you as an expert on the financial aspects of divorce. For many clients, divorce is the largest financial transaction of their lives. The role of a CDFA® professional is to address the special financial issues of divorce with data to help achieve equitable settlements.

Steps to Certification

Prerequisites

Individuals with a minimum of three years of professional experience in finance or divorce and a Bachelors degree are eligilbe to enroll in the CDFA® Program. This includes experience as a financial professional, accountant, or matrimonial lawyer. Candidates should also have working knowledge of financial calculators before purchasing the program.

IDFA understands that the financial industry encompasses a broad range of organizations. To see the full list of designations recognized by IDFA, see our FAQs page. Divorce industry experience is considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have any questions about this prerequisite, please contact info@InstituteDFA.com.

Independent Study

A candidate can download the exam blueprint and purchase the exam vouchers to obtain the CDFA® certification. If you fail the exam, you may retake it for a fee of $150 per retake. There is no limit on the number of times you may retake the exam. However, there is a 10-day waiting period after failing an exam. You must complete the waiting period before retaking the exam.

Purchasing the Course

To purchase the course, visit our product catalogue to purchase either the U.S. course or Canadian course. Course fees are as follows:

  • U.S. Course: $1,530
  • Canadian Course: $1,150

Exam vouchers are included in your course fee; there is no additional charge to take the exams. If you fail the exam, you may retake it for a fee of $150 per retake. There is no limit on the number of times you may retake the exam. However, there is a 10-day waiting period after failing an exam. You must complete the waiting period before retaking the exam. 

Candidates will receive information on how to set up a Pearson VUE account, as well as voucher codes, after registering for the course. Exam vouchers are valid for one year from the date of purchase. This means that you have one year to complete the entire course curriculum. If more than a year passes and you wish to continue with the program, you will be subject to a one-year extension fee of $395. If you have not completed the course after two years, you must repurchase the course and retake the exams.

To prepare for the exam, read each module thoroughly and complete the sample test. The study time for each module is typically 20 to 25 hours for most candidates.

CDFA® Examination

Modules 1, 2, and 3 each conclude with a 100-question, multiple-choice exam. Module 4 concludes with a comprehensive case-study exam consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions. Candidates have two hours to complete each exam. Candidates must pass each module exam with a 70% or higher to receive the CDFA® designation. 

All exams are taken at a Pearson VUE testing center, which has locations across the United States and Canada. To find a testing center in your area, go to www.PearsonVue.com, search 'IDFA,' and then click 'Find a Test Center.' You can also contact us at 800-875-1760 or info@InstituteDFA.com. 

CDFA® Exam Blueprint

Learning Objectives

CDFA candidates will study a broad range of topics regarding the financial aspects of divorce.

Module 1
Module 1 covers the basics of divorce and the role of the CDFA professional. This includes an overview of divorce procedures and laws, the fundamentals of financial analysis in divorce, and the role a CDFA professional could play in court proceedings as an expert witness.

Module 2
Module 2 proceeds to the more in-depth financial aspects of divorce. Candidates learn how to define and categorize property; determine the value of retirement plans; recognize options for the marital home; understand the fundamentals of alimony and child support; explain how divorce affects Social Security benefits; and more.

Module 3
Module 3 is devoted to the tax issues of divorce. It explains the complex tax issues of dividing property, selling the marital home, transferring retirement benefits, and giving and receiving support. It also details potential changes on a personal income tax return as someone goes from “Married Filing Jointly” to “Single” or “Head of Household.”

Module 4
Module 4 puts all of the previous lessons together into practical case studies. Candidates are challenged to understand different settlement proposals and recognize common mistakes in the negotiation process.

While similar to the U.S. course, the Canadian course differs slightly because of varying laws and procedures. For a more detailed overview of the CDFA course learning objectives, see U.S. Learning Objectives and Canadian Learning Objectives.

Candidates Handbook

Maintaining Your Designation

Once you complete the CDFA® course, your designation is valid for one year, after which you must pay a $295 annual reinstatement fee. To retain the CDFA® designation, you must also obtain 15 divorce-related hours of continuing education every two years.