For wealthy couples, getting divorced could mean taking a financial hit. Couples that have established a substantial net worth through investments, business ventures, and real estate holdings could easily have millions of dollars at stake during a divorce. As such, it is critical that each spouse hires an experienced high net worth divorce attorney to protect their financial interests throughout the divorce proceedings. The following issues are some of the most common challenges that come up in a high net worth divorce.
If you need legal assistance or guidance as you navigate your high net worth divorce, contact our office online.
High Net Worth Divorce Challenges
High net worth divorces involve a substantial amount of property, which will need to be divided during the divorce. As New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, martial property is divided in a manner that is fair, which does not necessarily mean equal. High net worth couples may possess multiple homes, residential properties, commercial properties, vacation homes, real estate holdings, and more, which are all subject to division (if they are considered marital property).
High net worth divorces were traditionally defined as divorces involving more than 1 million dollars in net liquid assets. Today, that number has increased to multiple millions of dollars. Determining how to divide this amount of wealth can get complicated, especially when it is difficult to figure out what is considered separate property, or property acquired before the marriage, and marital property, or property acquired during the marriage. Property can easily become commingled, which is where separate property becomes community property making it hard to separate what is and is not marital property.
Retirement accounts such as a 401(k)s and traditional or Roth IRAs may be subject to equitable distribution during your divorce. Determining division may require additional valuations and assistance from financial professionals and experts.
A high net worth divorce will likely require special evaluations to determine the value of certain assets. You may need to hire a business expert to determine the value of your businesses. There may also be complex evaluations of additional assets, such as retirement accounts, stocks, investments, and intellectual property. You will need to hire a trusted expert to be able to provide a written appraisal or testify on your behalf in court.
If one party attempts to hide property or downplay the worth of some assets, a forensic accountant may also be needed.
How is a business (or multiple businesses) divided during a divorce? Businesses are considered assets in a divorce and are also subject to division. If you own multiple businesses, your divorce proceedings could get even more complicated. It is advisable to speak with an experienced attorney to determine how to best protect your business(es) during a high net worth divorce.
Length of Divorce Proceedings
Due to the complexities associated with a high net worth divorce, it may take longer than a typical divorce. It takes time to evaluate the value of certain assets and determine if they are considered separate or marital property. Determining a fair division of assets can also be a contentious issue. It is not uncommon for a high net worth divorce to continue for months or years at a time. As such, some high net worth couples may try to negotiate their own divorce settlement, with the assistance of their attorneys or mediation, to try to minimize the negative effects of a contested divorce.
One issue that is certainly unique for celebrity couples or social elite couples with a high net worth, is the fact that the details of their divorce may be more public in nature. A high net worth divorce lawyer can help devise a plan on how to minimize unwanted attention and protect your privacy.
Contact our firm online or via (908) 259-6673 to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about our high net worth divorce services.