The Divorce Financial Advisor Practice Standards establish the level of professionalism that is expected of Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) practitioners. These principles-based Standards have been developed to provide guidance to those involved in divorce financial analyst services.

The Certified Divorce Financial Analyst certification process conveys to the public that those individuals who have been authorized to use the CDFA designation have met stringent professional standards and have agreed to adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.


Candidates must have a bachelor's degree with three years of on-the job experience or if no bachelor's degree, five years of relevant experience. Experience has been defined as the following:

  • Financial Planning
  • Family Law Practice or
  • three or more of the following:
    • Experience with the tax code
    • Investment advisory or management
    • Real Estate, mortgage and reverse mortgage lending
    • Life and disability insurance
    • Financial therapist or coach

Candidates may petition the Board of Advisors for an exception to the eligibility requirements by writing to: Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, 3622 Lyckan Parkway, Suite 3003, Durham NC 27707.


CDFA candidates must also develop their theoretical and practical understanding and knowledge of the financial aspects of divorce by completing a comprehensive course of study approved by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA).

Divorce Financial Analyst Examination

CDFA candidates must complete a four-part Educational Curriculum and Certification Exam that tests their understanding and knowledge of the financial aspects of divorce. The candidate must also demonstrate the practical application of this knowledge in the divorce process by completing a comprehensive case study.


CDFA practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct known as the IDFA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients, employers and other professionals. The IDFA may perform a background check during this process and each CDFA candidate must disclose any investigations or legal proceedings relating to his or her professional or business conduct.

Ongoing CDFA Certification Requirements

CDFA practitioners are required to maintain technical competence and to fulfill ethical obligations. Practitioners must pay an annual recertification fee of $345. Every two years, they must complete a minimum of thirty (30) hours of continuing education specifically related to the field of divorce.

In addition to the biennial continuing education requirement, all CDFA practitioners must voluntarily disclose any public, civil, criminal, or disciplinary actions that may have been taken against them during the past two years as part of the renewal process.

Divorce Financial Analyst Process

Although the scope of service for divorce financial engagements will vary, CDFA practitioners should use the following process:

Step #1: Establish and Define the Relationship with Client or Prospective Client

  • Mutual agreement regarding the scope of service(s) to be provided.
  • Agreement regarding fee arrangement and/or compensation.
  • Disclose any limitations or conflicts of interest.
  • Determine the client’s and the practitioner’s responsibilities.
  • Providing any additional information necessary to define or limit the scope of service.

Step #2: Gather client data and information relevant to the engagement

  • The practitioner shall obtain sufficient quantitative and qualitative information and financial documents relative to the scope of service.
  • If the CDFA practitioner is not able to obtain sufficient case information, financial records, or documents, which could impact the completion of the assignment and/or conclusions and opinions that can be reached, this shall be communicated by the CDFA practitioner to the client.

Step #3: Completion of Analysis / Assignment

  • CDFA practitioners must use reasonable, unbiased judgment when arriving at conclusions and/or developing a financial opinion relative to an assignment.
  • Assumptions used should be based on sound economic / financial principals.

Step #4: Presentation and delivery of the work product / assignment

  • Analyses’ and reports that are completed by CDFA practitioners should be done in a professional and competent manner to reflect the high standards of the divorce financial analyst profession and the IDFA.

Step #5: Completion of Engagement

  • At the conclusion of a divorce financial analyst engagement, CDFA practitioners should send written correspondence to their respective Client to confirm the completion of the engagement.