Divorces that involve considerable assets tend to be significantly more complicated and drawn out than those that involve couples with standard assets. Although some of the core issues are universal, such as division of property, alimony and child custody, the issues in high asset divorce cases are more complicated.
Both parties in this type of divorce have a lot to lose regardless of their contribution to the finances of the marriage. Being aware of the common issues typically encountered in a high asset divorce will ensure you are properly prepared to address them.
Asset valuation plays a central role in determining the division of property when divorcing. Many spouses who are involved in high net worth divorces own multiple businesses or properties and have a series of investments and retirement accounts. They may also own valuable personal property collections such as vehicles, jewelry, furniture or artwork. Intellectual property may also be involved. Many high asset couples own niche assets that require specialized types of valuation.
In all of these scenarios, different types of professional valuators may be called in to properly assess specific categories of assets. This can lead to complications if one spouse disputes the other spouse’s chosen valuator.
Another issue that can negatively impact one or both parties in a high asset divorce is publicity. If either or both of the spouses involved are well known in their local business community, involved in politics, or work in entertainment, sports or another high profile industry, their divorce may attract significant media attention.
In these cases, one spouse may wish to keep the proceedings out of the public eye, which often means they will attempt to reach a separation agreement rather than having their case end up in court where it may become a matter of public record. The divorce may be further complicated if one of the spouses uses the media to damage the reputation of the other spouse.
With so much at stake invested in the issues of high asset divorce, the parties may be tempted to engage in different forms of unethical behavior. One common issue that can arise in a high asset divorce is the hiding of assets by one party.
They may go about this by hiding some income in a separate account, supplying funds or assets to family members for safekeeping while the divorce is underway, claiming something was lost or traded, or by not disclosing that an asset exists. If the efforts to keep assets hidden are successful, this can lead to an unfair agreement that leaves one party at a serious disadvantage.
A full forensic financial audit is usually carried out in high asset divorces to ensure that every asset has been accounted for. A divorce attorney can file motions requiring the other spouse to disclose certain information to help them uncover property and financial holdings.
If one spouse is discovered to have hidden assets, the consequences can be severe. Because both parties in a divorce are required to divulge all of their assets, hiding assets from the court amounts to contempt of court. The judge in the case could issue sanctions and require the deceptive spouse to pay the other spouse’s legal fees. The judge may also grant higher alimony payments to the innocent spouse. In more extreme cases, the spouse who hide assets may even face criminal charges of fraud.
A high asset divorce tends to take significantly longer to resolve than a standard divorce. This is due to the amount and type of property that must be assessed as well as the need for financial and tax planning specialists. As a result, this leads to higher legal bills for both parties.
There can also be a lot of frustration involved when the spouses have trouble reaching agreements on different matters, which only serves to lengthen the proceedings further.
In some high asset divorces, a portion of the assets involved may be tied up in foreign properties, bank accounts or businesses. This can make the proceedings significantly more complicated and cause the entire process to take longer than expected because the assets need to be accessed and valuated before they can be fairly divided.
Variances in Income
Some couples with substantial assets may enjoy multiple streams of income. This can make it very difficult to properly determine alimony and child support compared to cases involving couples who receive a steady amount of income each month. The court must find a way to make sure both spouses are treated fairly while considering the fact that their income varies substantially from month to month.
Contact the Experienced Maryland High Asset Divorce Attorneys
If you are navigating a high asset divorce, the family law attorneys at SIEGELLAW in Maryland can help. We know how much is at stake and are prepared to help you get what you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.