The Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility is provided as an expression of the  ethical standards that the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts™ has adopted and  every Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® has agreed to abide by. The code applies to  every Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designee and candidate in conducting  divorce-planning work.

  1. Integrity. Maintain the highest standard of honesty and integrity when dealing with  colleagues, the IDFA, clients or attorneys. Avoid practices that would dishonor  your profession, IDFA™ or any of its members and employees.
  2. Competence. In addition to satisfying the continuing education requirement needed  to maintain the use of the designation, every CDFA should serve their clients  competently. Therefore, acquiring the knowledge and skill necessary to do so in the  area of divorce planning is required.
  3. Objectivity. Objectivity requires a CDFA to be intellectually honest and impartial.  Regardless of who hired him or her, a CDFA will always be objective when  dealing with clients and their attorneys.
  4. Fairness. CDFA professional's who maintain their financial practices should make divorce-  planning recommendations independent of the potential financial planning  relationship, doing so will alleviate the risk of potential conflict of interest. To do so,  a CDFA will need to separate the two practices as to not confuse the public.
  5. Confidentiality. A CDFA shall hold client information to the highest standard of  confidentiality. Short of client consent or appropriate legal process, a CDFA shall  not release any information about their client before, during or after the divorce.
  6. Professionalism. A CDFA professional’s interactions shall project the highest levels of  professionalism. Whether dealing with clients, attorneys, IDFA or any of its  partners or subsidiaries a CDFA will behave in a professional manner.
  7. Scope. A CDFA professional, by education and training, is specialist dealing in the financial  issues of divorce. Working along side the attorney who is licensed to practice law, a  CDFA professional must never (unless licensed to do so) advise clients on their legal rights. In  addition, a CDFA professional must never market his or her services in a misleading fashion or  represent themselves as representatives of IDFA.
  8. Compliance. A CDFA professional will comply with all the laws related to the business they  conduct and report to the IDFA any actions by other CDFA professional’s that are illegal or  in violation of this code. In addition, a CDFA professional will comply with any requests from  the IDFA for information regarding any complaints brought against him or her. If  IDFA, after comprehensive investigation, decides that either suspension or  revocation of the CDFA designation is the proper remedy, a CDFA professional will comply  with the order.
  9. Unauthorized practice of law. A CDFA professional understands that, in order to practice law,  one has to be licensed. Under no circumstances will a CDFA professional represent that the  IDFA certification is a license to practice law.
  10. Support. A CDFA professional will always support our profession and the IDFA as the  main driving force behind the progress of the profession. Additionally, a CDFA professional  will not collude, debase or discredit the IDFA or the profession.

CDFA Professional Guidance - When Your Existing Clients Divorce

Many CDFA professionals are also wealth managers, financial advisors and/or CFP® professionals.   Occasionally, you may have an existing relationship with a couple who decides to divorce.  What are your responsibilities and options when faced with this situation?

You are expected to make sure that you treat both clients fairly and objectively.  One method of doing this is to refer both clients to a CDFA professional not within your practice.   By recusing yourself from the divorce planning engagement you can be sure that you do not violate any confidences or provide preferential treatment to either client.  In addition, this would remove any possible conflict of interests in your dealing with existing clients.

Another method of making certain that the clients’ interest are served is to make sure that all correspondence or work done for either party is shared with both parties.  This means all email, correspondence or reports are provided to both parties and that the CDFA professional maintain a neutral stance and does not advocate for either party.

In every instance, the client engagement agreement should be clear as to what services are to be provided, the begin and end dates of the engagements and any services to be provided.  It is strongly recommended that investment services not be offered or engaged in until after the conclusion of the divorce planning engagement unless those services are required as part of the divorce agreement.

Best Practices

  1. At the conclusion of the divorce, if you are entering an engagement with either party, please make sure to have both parties consent to the engagement to eliminate any real or perceived conflict of interest.
  2. In the case of Collaborative divorces, be sure to be aware of the practice standards in your area.  Many Collaborative Groups encourage Financial Specialists to not engage with clients after the conclusion of the collaborative matter and ban the sales or recommendation of products during the divorce. 
  3. During the divorce, many CDFA professionals do not discuss their other services such as investment advice and management and simply inform the clients that those services cannot be discussed or offered during the divorce.