PROTOCOL NO. 3.5
Draft Revision 5.3, 9.14.2009
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS IN COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE
PURPOSE OF THIS PROTOCOL:
1. To guide CCRE members in working in collaborative teams with financial
neutrals and specialists.
2. To assist CCRE members in understanding the roles of all financial professionals
in the collaborative process.
I. PARTIES' NEED FOR FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS.
A. Financial professionals' expertise, perspective and work-product inform the
collaborative process and support the parties in decision-making.
B. Financial professionals assist the parties in assembling financial records and
understanding financial issues and implications in negotiating pre-nuptial, separation, post-
nuptial agreement, divorce, parenting or estate plans.
C. There are many kinds of financial professionals. Financial professionals are
distinguished by different training, expertise, experience and the role that they play in the
D. The majority of financial professionals in collaborative cases are neutral financial
professionals who serve as members of the collaborative team and, to preserve collaborative
process and work product confidentiality, sign a participation agreement (e.g. Statement of
Understanding and Authorization and Consent).
E. Some neutral financial professionals are specifically trained to guide parties and
the collaborative team through the financial aspects of collaborative process. These financial
neutrals are often Certified Divorce Financial Analysts, Certified Public Accountants or Certified
Financial Planners who serve on the collaborative team as the Neutral Financial Facilitator.
F. Allied financial specialists are used to develop specific financial information and
inform the collaborative process given the particular financial needs of the parties in a
collaborative case. Their role is defined by the needs of the parties’ particular situation.
G. In some cases, a party may also need support from a personal financial specialist.
A personal financial specialist may be chosen by the participant if disclosed to the team, or,
suggested by the team. To prevent unprotected disclosure to third parties, independent financial
specialists must be bound by a confidentiality agreement agreeable to the collaborative team.
II. DISTINGUISHING FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS AND ROLES
A. Financial Professionals serving as Neutrals
1. A Neutral Financial Professional (NFP) may be a Certified Financial Planner
(CFP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), real estate appraiser, business
appraiser, mortgage broker, real estate sales professional, business or tax
attorney or professional, pension consultant, estate planner, insurance
professional, or another financial specialist addressing the specific and
sometimes complex financial issues parties face.
2. There are many types of financial professionals who may serve as neutrals in
the collaborative process.
3. Neutral financial professionals are an integral part of the collaborative team.
Once the participation agreement is signed, it is essential that there be a
reciprocal flow of information between the Neutral Financial Professionals
and other collaborative professionals on the team.
4. NFPs should receive all relevant information necessary to provide
appropriate financial support and perspective.
5. As signatories to the participation agreement, NFP’s should be informed
in advance of any sensitive issues which might complicate settlement of the case.
6. NFP’s need all relevant information including insights into the significant
emotional issues , or which may impact the participant’s vision, cognition,
learning style or mobility and thus, limit the ability to gather and prepare financial
information, and that may affect the development of workable financial scenarios
7. Often parties express their emotional needs as financial needs. Given the
NFP’s financial expertise and neutrality, parties will often disclose these needs
and concerns with the NFP before other professionals. It is therefore important
that the NFP provides to the collaborative team reports of all meetings with parties
and significant developments,
8. NFPs should attend all collaborative meetings, whether team meetings or
meetings with the parties, where financial issues may arise.
9. If a NFP has difficulty in obtaining information or communicating
effectively with parties, the NFP should inform the team so that the team can
10. Before the MSA is presented to parties, NFPs should receive a draft copy in
sufficient time for review and analysis and to raise issues for discussion with
the collaborative team
B. The Neutral Financial Process Facilitator
1. Optimally, the Neutral Financial Process Facilitator is involved from the
beginning of a collaborative case and works with the parties throughout the
process as a full member of the collaborative team
2. The Neutral Financial Process Facilitator supports the parties and the
collaborative team in the following ways:
a. Serves as a financial information coordinator guiding parties in
identifying, gathering, organizing and analyzing their family
c. Assists parties in developing income and expenses, and assets and
liabilities information for Declarations of Disclosure
d. Educates and supports parties in gaining useful insight and
perspective about their financial situations
e. Helps parties clarify and prioritize their financial needs and those of
f. Supports informed decision-making by developing scenarios to
illustrate and assisting parties and professionals in evaluating the
short and long term opportunities, costs and implications of
g. Assists in the preparation of budgets
h. Refers parties to additional neutral specialists where necessary, and
agreed in advance by the team
i. Indentifies tax issues raised by options under consideration, and,
where appropriate, on prior notice to the collaborative team, makes
referrals to an appropriate tax professional
k. Presents an initial report in person and attends team meetings, as
appropriate, at times when reports or proposals generated by parties
and /or by their attorneys, in response, are under consideration
l. Explains the methodology and financial assumptions used in options
m. Reviews marital settlement agreement for accuracy and makes
comments in team financial discussions
C. The Neutral Financial Specialist
1. During the collaborative process, the parties and collaborative team may
determine that specific financial information and perspective is needed to
develop and evaluate options, make decisions or complete transactions. In
these situations, the parties may, as needed, retain the services of neutral
financial specialists to address their specific needs.
2. Examples of these specialized needs would include, but are not limited to:
a. determining a community interest in or the value of:
i. a pension
ii. a business, or
iii. a professional practice,
iv. a partnership
v. stock options
vi. stock redemption plans,
vii. refinanced separate property house or other asset
viii. a life insurance policy
b. tracing separate property interests
c. structuring or arranging asset-based funding of settlement options
d. structuring a tax-free real estate exchange, sale, refinancing or
purchase of a residence or other real property
e. tax planning
f. options for rehabilitating credit
g. securing uninterrupted payment of spousal support,
i. medical insurance for non-employee spouse or partner
j. long-term care for a disabled spouse or child
k. creation of a special needs trust for a disabled spouse or child
l. structuring and funding a structured settlement
m. drafting a qualified domestic relations order
n. preparing a will or trust
o. arranging an IRA annuity payout
p. insuring life and property
5. Financial specialists are engaged according to parties’ needs, and the expertise
of the specialist, thus the extent of the financial specialists' participation in the
team must be clearly defined by the collaborative team and agreed to by the
6. In most cases, these financial specialists serve in a neutral role and work with
both parties. However, in certain cases, the neutral financial specialist may
work with only one party. When a financial specialist works only with one
party, it is important that the financial specialist’s role is defined or agreed
upon in advance by the team.
D. Financial Specialist Serving in a Limited Role by Agreement of the Parties and the
1. Under circumstances where the Parties and the Team agree they need the
assistance of a financial specialist with particular knowledge and
experience either in facts of the matter at hand, such as a corporate
accountant, or, as would be necessary to make certain decisions or
complete a necessary transaction, that financial professional will serve in a
limited role. This financial specialist may or may not be a neutral in the
collaborative matter at hand.
2. Financial professionals serving in a limited role shall:
A. Sign all necessary documents defined by the team to assure the
confidentiality of their work product and the collaborative process is
B. Be apprised by the team of the nature of the collaborative process
and be expected to support the mutual goals of the parties and the team in
reaching a win-win settlement.
C. Prepare any presentations or writings requested by the
collaborative team in a non-adversarial fashion with the objective to
inform the process.
D. Be available to explain their findings or report as needed and
requested by the collaborative team.
E. A Participant’s Personal Financial Specialist.
1. Parties may have a prior relationship with a financial professional, or may
during the process hire, a personal financial professional to support them
during or upon conclusion of the collaborative process.
2. Upon notice to the collaborative team, parties may consult with their personal
financial professional during the collaborative process.
3. Such a financial professional is not a financial neutral and is not a member of
the collaborative team.
4. Parties must disclose the name of the financial professional to the
5. To prevent unprotected disclosure to third parties, independent financial
specialists must be bound by a confidentiality agreement agreeable to the
III. ENGAGEMENT OF FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS
A. Neutral financial process facilitators and specialists who serve in a collaborative case
1. Be trained in the collaborative process and necessary communication
2. Meet the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP)
Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practitioners, See Section 4.1 -4.6.i
3. Conform to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals’
(IACP) Ethical Standards for Professionals serving in Neutral Roles. See.
Section 10 – 10.1Aii
4. Have a separate written agreement with the parties that governs their work
5. Not engage in dual representation with parties. This means they will not
render services to either participant outside the collaborative process or
after the process concludes
6. Maintain transparency within the collaborative process
7. Communicate to parties and attorneys any circumstances which might
precipitate the neutral financial professional’s withdrawal. This affords
the collaborative team an opportunity to address such situations, e.g.,
when the parties are uncooperative in disclosing requested financial
information, or, if a participant requests that the NFP keep secrets
B. The financial professional does not give legal advice, unless they are an attorney and
the advice is within the scope of their engagement
C. To protect and preserve the confidentiality of the collaborative process and all
financial work product generated in support of the settlement the parties seek
collaborative team support to achieve, all financial professionals shall sign both the
statement of understanding and authorization and consent to share information
4. IACP Minimum Standards for Collaborative Financial Practitioners
4.1 Professional license or designation in good standing in one of the
CFP - Certified Financial Planner
CPA - Certified Public Accountant
CA - Chartered Accountant
CMA - Certified Management Accountant
CGA - Certified General Accountant
ChFC - Chartered Financial Consultant
or equivalent in state, province or country
4.2 Background, education and experience in:
Financial aspects of divorce
Cash management and spending plans
Retirement and pension plans
Individual and family financial planning concepts
4.3 At least twelve hours of basic interdisciplinary collaborative training
4.4 In addition to the above, an accumulation or aggregate of twenty hours of
education in the financial fundamentals of divorce giving the financial professional a
basic understanding of family law in his/her own jurisdiction, including:
Property - valuation and division
Pensions and retirement plans
Budgeting - income and expenses
Child and spousal support
Future income projections
Financial implications of different scenarios for settlement
4.5 At least one thirty hour training in client centered, facilitative conflict
resolution, of the kind typically taught in mediation training (interest based, narrative
or transformative mediation programs).
4.6 In addition to the above, an accumulation or aggregate of fifteen hours of training
in any or all of the following areas:
Communication skills training
Collaborative training beyond minimum twelve hours of initial
Advanced mediation training
Basic professional coach training
10. Neutral Roles
10.1 A Collaborative practitioner who serves on a Collaborative case in a neutral role
shall adhere to that role, and shall not engage in any continuing client relationship that
would compromise the Collaborative practitioner’s neutrality. Working with either or
both client(s) or with their child(ren) outside of the Collaborative process is inconsistent
with that neutral role.
A. A Collaborative practitioner serving as a neutral financial specialist in a Collaborative
case shall not have an ongoing business relationship with a Collaborative client during or
after the completion of the Collaborative case, but may assist the clients in completing
the tasks specifically assigned to them by the clients’ written, final agreement. Such
assistance may not include the sale of financial products or other services.