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household finances

You get the cottage but he gets the boat. Or perhaps you get the house, but she gets all the retirement savings.

Together you've amassed a small fortune, and one fight that may be complicating your divorce is who gets to keep the person who helped get you there: your financial adviser.

More often than not, two people who make up a couple have different money personalities. One might be a natural saver while the other is a natural spender. One person might be in charge of the family finances while the other steers the daily household activities. Often, communication between the couple and the financial adviser happens through one person more than the other.

This can lead to serious problems in the case of divorce. Finding a good financial adviser and building a relationship with them can be tough. So when your family unit splits, particularly if the split is nasty, advisers may be forced to choose sides.

Sometimes there is a simple solution. If you never really liked the adviser because you didn't have a good rapport, or he or she is a friend of your spouse, you may have no qualms about walking away from them too.

Here's a wrinkle: Suppose one person gets all the investable assets, such as the non-registered account and the Tax Free Savings Account, while the other gets all the non-investable assets, such as the houses and cars. Even though you may still have a sizable estate that needs managing, an adviser might not be able to justify working for someone with no investable assets. If you don't want the adviser, and the adviser can't justify a relationship with your spouse, you might both walk away.

If you think your divorce could degenerate into a financial mess, consider finding a new adviser with the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designation. Not only can they provide specialized advice surrounding your divorce, they can give you the assurance that someone is in your corner. I should point out that many advisers, with or without the CDFA designation, have seen clients through a divorce and managed to professionally counsel both parties. But if you suspect the adviser is secretly on your spouse's side, get a new adviser.

A proper divorce analysis can help ensure an equitable division of assets. It should include a post-divorce cash-flow study. The reality is often that one of you is moving out, and that means your expenses will no longer be shared. One person will find themselves house-rich and cash-poor, or vice-versa, and anything in between. An adviser who has experience preparing these analyses will be able to guide you through the long-term ramifications of any proposed settlement.

Everyone knows divorce can be messy. Not only could your spouse be running off with another person, they could also run off with your financial adviser. One has more short-term sting, but the other has the potential to bite you for years to come.

Preet Banerjee is a senior vice-president with Pro-Financial Asset Management. His website is

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