There are many advantages to a high net worth. Although money can't buy happiness, it provides peace of mind in terms of life's responsibilities. As an individual with a high net worth, you have to implement special measures to protect your assets in the event of a divorce. Handling your estate requires the services of a San Diego divorce attorney who has an impeccable reputation and experience in representing the unique concerns and issues individuals face in high net worth or high asset divorce cases.
If you have significant business or personal assets, it is important to protect your financial interests during divorce litigation. This is a crucial step in the court judgment or final settlement. Finding a law firm with suitable professional resources and adequate experience in mediating and litigating high asset divorce cases to represent you is the most important step towards safeguarding your financial future. Partner with San Diego Divorce Attorney, who is recognized by practicing professionals, business executives, and other high net worth individuals for their capacity to handle complex financial issues concerning the valuation and equitable division of marital assets.
What is a High Asset or High Net Worth Divorce?
When one or both spouses in a divorce owns one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) or more in net liquid assets, the law traditionally considers it a high-net-worth divorce. However, as net worth has skyrocketed in recent decades, San Diego law firms routinely handle divorces with assets involving multiple millions more.
High asset divorce cases involve many moving parts and and attorneys must be skilled in negotiating treacherous financial minefields. The risk of error increases with every dollar, and divorce is an incredibly emotional and personal experience. Someone who feels hurt, angry, or betrayed may not be in the correct frame of mind to make the best possible decisions for their future and that of their children. When a business is at stake, it is particularly important to maintain composure and to advocate for the family’s financial future.
One of the biggest mistakes an individual can make in a high net worth divorce, is to agree to any terms in order to bring an end to the case. While acting on emotion can be tempting, it is unwise to agree to terms as an escape from an emotionally draining experience, or to free yourself from your spouse in order to be with someone else. Take your time before you agree to the terms of your alimony award or the division of assets to speed up the conclusion of your divorce. Such carelessness can pose devastating risks as well as financial consequences.
Avoid listening to the experience of other people who have been involved in a high net worth divorce. Just because someone else received a settlement worth millions, does not mean that the same is available to you. Each case is different and each settlement is customized based on the net worth of the individuals, their assets and facts that are pertinent to their specific case.
Protecting Yourself Against High Net Worth Divorce
The best way to protect yourself when significant assets are at stake, is to have an experienced attorney draw up a prenuptial agreement before you are married. If you are already married, a postnuptial agreement can serve a similar purpose provided that it is drawn up by an expert. Many loopholes exist that may render an agreement invalid, which is why it should be drawn up by an expert. You may stipulate what you want to include and exclude from your marital assets in the event of a divorce. A well drafted prenuptial agreement is easier to enforce and provides an excellent means for protecting your property and minimizing conflict.
However, California is a community property state, which means that unless precluded by a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, all marital assets are divided using equitable distribution. Full disclosure is key to ensuring that all assets are accounted for and to prevent unnecessarily drawn out litigation.
Property Division in High Asset Divorce
Getting divorced when you have limited assets is difficult, but a high asset divorce magnifies the typical challenges. Most of the issues involved in a high-net-worth divorce, involves the:
- and division of marital assets.
Hiding assets during a high net worth divorce is one of the biggest mistakes more affluent people make during divorce. Transferring the ownership of valuable assets to a third party (a parent, business partner, lover or a child from a former marriage) is foolish, as it can cost the person's credibility. The court may even award the entire value of the hidden asset to the other spouse, which will impact the reasonability of a divorce settlement.
Having worked hard to acquire your significant wealth puts you at greater risk, which is why it is so important to work with a lawyer who has experience in handling high net worth cases. An experienced lawyer will help you reduce your risk while ensuring full and fair asset distribution as an end result.
High-net-worth cases tend to involve family businesses, spousal support, child support, maximized tax benefits, investment and retirement funds, and the impact of antenuptial agreements. With so many issues at stake, a professional law firm will enlist the help of experts in other fields to ensure a successful settlement. From tax experts to geologists, forensic accountants, business valuations and veterinarians for livestock valuation, many experts may be necessary to deliver the best possible result.
It is important for law firms to tailor high asset divorce cases to the client's specific needs.
High Asset Divorce: Business Valuation for Property Division
A couple in which one or both spouses owns or operates a family business or professional practice, property division can be more complex. It is important to obtain proper valuation of properties to ensure that parties are compensated fairly, whether or not the business is dissolved. The process involves a thorough evaluation of the business, including:
- assets and liabilities
- economic forecasts
- appreciation and depreciation during the marriage
- and more.
When both parties have an interest in the family business, a lawyer can help lay out a succession plan that outlines the way forward. One party may buy out the other's shares, or they may sell or dissolve the business and share the proceeds. Should the couple decide to hold onto the business after the divorce, clear contracts must be drawn up to protect it.
High Net Worth Divorce: Investments and Retirement Accounts
High net worth clients tend to have investments, such as retirement accounts. It is important to obtain expert guidance regarding the way in which these accounts are structured and allocated and to learn about the tax factors that are involved.
High Net Worth Divorce: Tax Benefits
Tax issues play a big part in high net worth divorce cases, due to the fact that couples high value assets. Understanding the way in which tax penalties are applied during the division of property can help minimize the impact of tax consequences on your settlement.
High Asset Divorce: Division of Property
Accurate valuation is key to equitable property division. It is important to let an experienced law firm handle your division of property case, whether it's only your marital home or multiple investment properties, vacation homes, and other assets. They will work closely with a team of tax experts to help you determine which properties to keep. It is important to work with a team who can accurately assess the value of investments, businesses, high-value personal assets and other property to ensure that you receive a fair portion of the marital assets.
High Net Worth Divorce: Antenuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements are aimed at protecting the assets of high net worth individuals when they divorce. However, a prenuptial agreement or parts thereof may be considered unenforceable. A specialist divorce lawyer can provide guidance with regard to the validity and the extent of coverage offered by a prenuptial agreement.
High Net Worth Divorce: Spousal Support
Standard of living during a marriage is often highly contested during high net worth divorces and it plays a pivotal part in determining the value of spousal support. It is important to hire a lawyer who is willing to defend your position and go to bat for you in securing an agreement that will meet your immediate needs as well as those you might have in the future.
If one party in a marriage has depended on the spouse, he or she will require financial support in order to become self-sufficient. If one spouse stayed home to care for the family or home, or perhaps to support a family business while the other spouse worked, it is highly probable that the court will award spousal support. Spousal support is calculated based on a specific formula and will typically be payable for half the duration of the marriage (if it is under ten years), or until remarriage, if the couple were married for longer than ten years. However, that is not set in stone.
When it comes to awarding spousal support, the courts consider a number of issues, such as:
- income of both parties
- duration of marriage
- contributions of spouses to the marriage.
Getting quality representation for your spousal support case will help ensure that whether you are paying or receiving spousal support, the payments are fair. In addition to financial support, the high net worth spouse may have to provide assistance in helping his or her former spouse to re-enter the workforce in order to become self-sufficient, especially if s/he stayed home to support the family or help in a family business.
High Net Worth Divorce: Child Support and Custody
The parents may agree on a child custody, support and visitation issues, or they may petition the court to assist. California courts award custody based on what is in the child's best interest. Therefore, custody will not necessarily be awarded to the higher net worth parent. Many aspects will be evaluated, including the child's relationship with each parent and the parent's ability to provide physical and emotional support.
Child support is usually based on the parent's net resources and income, but the courts have some discretion. The custodial parent's lawyer may argue that the child is accustomed to a higher quality lifestyle, and therefore their needs are greater than what the maximum payment allows them to maintain. If the parent is able to provide proof for the expenses, the court may grant an increase in the child support payments to cover:
- private school
- extracurricular activities
- expensive clothing
- sporting equipment
- and private tutors.
A custodial spouse may not limit or deny visitation with the other parent as a ploy to demand higher child support payments. Likewise, being a stay at home parent is a privilege, and not a right. Therefore, the court may compel one to find work, as it is both parents' duty to provide for their children.
High Asset Divorce Representation
When you decide that it is time to call it quits on your marriage, you should hire a divorce lawyer who has significant experience in the intricacies of complex, high net worth divorce litigation. The firm should work with a team of independent financial professionals who can ensure that the facts are well prepared and clearly presented.
The legal team should be able to critically analyze your specific situation, and be skilled at untangling financial and legal intricacies in order to protect your rights. While your case progresses, they should assertively advocate for your interests and apprise you of the status and costs of the litigation.
Obtain Professional High Asset Divorce Representation Today!
If you find yourself involved in a high net worth divorce, San Diego Divorce Attorney can help you protect your assets. Using our extensive experience and network of expert professionals, we can provide you with a wide range of mediation and litigation services to help you obtain a fair reasonable settlement. Schedule an appointment with one of our experienced San Diego high asset divorce attorneys today by calling 858-529-5150.