In a high net worth divorce, one or both spouses have a high income or a large number of assets. Traditionally, high-net-worth divorces are defined as divorces involving more than one million dollars in net liquid assets. However, today, high net worth divorces can easily exceed this number.
Although each divorce is unique and presents its own legal challenges, high-net-worth divorces tend to be much more complex. High-value cases nearly always require the experience and legal guidance of a high-net-worth attorney.
What Makes High Net Worth Divorces Different?
While high net worth divorces have aspects that are very similar to regular divorces, there are also some distinct differences. One of the biggest factors that separate high net worth divorces from regular divorces is how property is divided between the two spouses.
High net worth divorces involve a significantly higher amount of income and assets that can be difficult to fairly distribute. High net worth individuals may have assets in both domestic and international accounts, as well as vehicles, real estate, bonds, stocks, offshore accounts, mutual funds and various other money and property.
How money and assets are divided during a high-net-worth divorce will depend on the state laws in which the couple resides. Maryland is an equitable distribution state, meaning property is divided fairly between the spouses but this does not necessarily mean there is an equal split.
The judge will decide how to fairly distribute the property based on a variety of factors, such as if the assets are marital property or separate property, if children are involved and if there was a written agreement that prevents certain assets from becoming marital property.
The court will also decide on how to handle property that is “acquired,” meaning property that is not purchased all at once. If a couple is still making payments on a property when they divorce, the property may be considered marital or non-marital depending on the source of payments.
Factors Involved In A High Net Worth Divorce
There are many complex factors involved in a high net worth divorce case. Without a qualified attorney, a spouse may have difficulty navigating these areas of law and may lose out on their chance to walk away from the marriage with certain assets.
A high-net-worth attorney can help clients in the identification of assets. Some spouses may attempt to hide certain funds or assets when going through divorce proceedings. Unless someone actively looks for these assets, they may remain hidden until the divorce has been finalized. An attorney will play a major role in identifying all marital property for a fair division of assets.
High-net-worth attorneys can also assist with complicated asset issues. High-value cases often involve many types of accounts and investments, such as business interests, real estate holdings, retirement accounts, trusts and international assets. Each of these assets must be carefully analyzed and reported to ensure that they are correct and included on any divorce paperwork. A high-net-worth attorney can also assist clients with the tax consequences associated with some financial transactions.
Spousal support is a common factor in high-net-worth divorces, especially when one spouse generates the bulk of the income during the marriage. During a high-value case, an attorney will identify and define the reasonable needs of the dependent spouse and recommend a maintenance amount that is fair to both parties. A high-net-worth attorney may also provide guidance for handling child custody and child support issues.
Many couples going through a high-net-worth divorce want to keep their finances and personal business private. Divorces are generally considered public matters, meaning anyone can learn about the details of a divorce. However, when a couple with a high net worth is divorcing, they may have the opportunity to seal these records from public view. A high-net-worth attorney can help divorcing couples minimize unwanted attention and protect their privacy by requesting that all divorce information be sealed.
It is not unusual for a couple in a high-net-worth marriage to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These agreements are designed to outline who gets what after a marriage and how certain aspects of the divorce should be handled. Like many other areas of divorce law, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be highly complex and r/family-law/prenuptial-postnuptial-agreements/equire the expertise of an experienced high-net-worth attorney to decipher the language used.
Speak With A High-Net-Worth Attorney Today
No divorce is easy, but high-net-worth divorces can be unusually complicated. For this reason, many divorcing couples turn to reputable high-net-worth attorneys to help guide them throughout the process and to answer any questions they may have about asset distribution and other areas of divorce.
To learn more about why high net worth attorneys are worth the investment or to schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney that has handled countless high-net-worth cases, reach out to the legal experts at SIEGELLAW.