High Net Worth Divorce Attorney
For most newlyweds, the idea that they may someday get divorced seems like a far-fetched nightmare. However, data indicates that divorce is all-too-common occurrence, and despite lifelong intentions, the average marriage only lasts 11 years.
As if the heartache of losing a partner weren’t enough, many soon-to-be-exes are met with unexpected financial burdens. The cost of divorce can be devastating, especially when one or both spouses had higher-than-average incomes and amassed high-value property. In these cases, couples can expect an expensive, lengthy, and complicated divorce proceeding.
If you’re facing a high-net-worth divorce, you need to understand what’s at stake. This article will explain the ways in which a high-net-worth divorce attorney can help mitigate your losses and find an equitable distribution of your assets. Keep reading to learn about how a family law attorney can help ensure the equitable property division of your high-value assets.
As leading divorce attorneys in San Francisco, Fenchel Family Law has helped countless clients navigate their high-net-worth divorces. If you’re facing a complex divorce with a large marital estate, contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney today.
Understanding High-Net-Worth Divorce
A high-net-worth divorce is a legal process that pertains to the dissolution of the marriage between individuals possessing considerable financial resources. This category of divorce typically involves couples with a substantial combined net worth that significantly exceeds the average.
Unlike divorces where the sole or primary focus is resolving custody and child support issues, a high-net-worth divorce may combine these targeted areas of focus with an additional emphasis on managing and distributing extensive financial resources. In these cases, the complexity of determining what is separate property and what is marital property necessitates legal and financial expertise. Navigating the intricacies associated with the division of assets, hidden assets, business valuation, joint bank accounts, etc., often requires assistance from various specialists.
A typical divorce in California takes a minimum of six months according to the California Courts’ Self Help Guide. However, couples embarking on a high-net-worth divorce will likely be looking at a time frame of at least a year and probably more. This time frame can, of course, be reduced by working with a dedicated family law attorney with experience in high-net-worth divorce cases.
High Net Worth Divorce Assets
High-net-worth divorce assets encompass a broad spectrum of substantial financial resources and valuable possessions that couples accumulate before and during their marriage. In the context of high-net-worth divorces, the division of these assets usually becomes the primary goal of the divorce proceedings. Apart from assets that are typically discussed in divorce proceedings such as cash and liquid assets, careful attention will also be paid to:
- Real estate. This includes primary residences, luxury homes, vacation properties, and high-end real estate investments. Determining the value of these properties can be intricate, involving appraisals and assessments.
- Business interests. For individuals with ownership stakes in businesses, professional practices, or partnerships, the valuation and division of these assets can be challenging. Business appraisers may be enlisted to assess the worth of these enterprises.
- Investments. High-net-worth individuals often have diverse investment portfolios, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities. Evaluating the value and potential tax implications of these investments is crucial during divorce proceedings.
- Vehicles and luxury items. Expensive cars, yachts, airplanes, and other high-end vehicles are assets subject to division. These items can have both financial and sentimental value, adding emotional complexity to the divorce proceedings.
- Art and collectibles. Valuable art collections, antiques, and other collectibles are assets that may require professional appraisal. Disentangling ownership and determining fair market value for these items can be intricate.
- Jewelry and watches. High-value jewelry, watches, and other precious items are personal assets that contribute to the overall wealth of the individuals involved. Assigning value and deciding on ownership can be delicate matters.
- Trusts and estates. Assets held in trusts and inherited estates can add a layer of complexity to the divorce proceedings. Ensuring a clear understanding of how these assets are to be divided is essential.
Other than a lawyer, most divorces don’t require the help of other professionals or experts in their proceedings, but in the case of a high asset divorce, you may additional help from forensic accountants, tax consultants, and various appraisers to create a nuanced view of the wealth at stake and which assets belong to whom.
If you need help determining the value of your assets and building a case for ownership over these assets, you’ll need a good high-net-worth divorce lawyer. Fenchel Family Law is an experienced and award-winning law firm with many many years of proven success in cases of high-net-worth divorce and we have the capability and resources to make sure you have the outcome you deserve. Contact us for a consultation today.
Common Issues to Consider in High Net Worth Divorces
Apart from the asset valuation process, there are many other important aspects of high-net-worth divorce to consider. It’s imperative that you consider each one to ensure that your financial interests are protected, as well as your parental rights.
Child Custody and Support
e3High net worth divorces may see unique disputes over the lifestyle to which the child has become accustomed, with debates on schooling, extracurricular activities, and international travel. The financial capacity of each parent may influence decisions, as courts strive to maintain the child’s accustomed standard of living. Child support calculations can be intricate, accounting for various expenses such as private schooling, healthcare, and extracurricular activities. Ensuring that the child’s needs are met while navigating the intricacies of substantial wealth is possibly the most important focus of the entire divorce process and requires a delicate approach by both parents, as well as the legal and financial professionals who assist them.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Alimony is often a focal point of high-net-worth divorce negotiations, considering the substantial financial resources involved. Courts may consider the accustomed lifestyle of the parties, the duration of the marriage, and the financial needs of the recipient spouse when determining alimony payments. In high net worth cases, where complex asset portfolios and business interests are at stake, the calculation and negotiation of alimony can become tedious, especially if both parties gained significant assets before and during the marriage. The aim is not only to address the immediate financial needs of the recipient spouse but also to ensure a fair and sustainable financial arrangement post-divorce.
Additionally, the tax implications of alimony payments and recent changes in tax laws can significantly impact the negotiation strategies in high-net-worth divorce cases. Both parties may enlist financial experts and attorneys to navigate the complexities of alimony negotiations, striving for an equitable resolution that considers the unique financial circumstances of each spouse.
Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
While awkward to discuss prior to or during a marriage, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are often incredibly helpful in ensuring a less complicated divorce. Prenuptial agreements, established before marriage, are particularly common in high net worth scenarios, setting forth the expectations and protections for each party entering into the marriage. Postnuptial agreements, though formed after marriage, serve a similar purpose, allowing couples to address changes in financial circumstances or assets acquired during the marriage. These agreements are vital tools for transparency, providing a structured framework that can minimize disputes and legal complexities during a high-net-worth divorce, ultimately contributing to a more efficient and equitable resolution.
Conversely, couples who don’t have prenuptial or postnuptial agreements may run into challenges when it comes to determining what is owed to both parties when a divorce is inevitable.
Communication Between Spouses
Lastly, an important part of both marriage and divorce is communication. While it may be tempting to discuss legal matters with your spouse following a separation, it’s almost never a good idea to do so without the assistance of an attorney and may result in the biggest mistake of a high-net-worth divorce. As in criminal cases, verbal and written communication between spouses can be used as evidence in court, and even if your communications are amicable, some discussions may be used against you when determining your settlement or custody arrangements.
The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Lawyer for High Net-Worth Divorce
Are you currently involved with or considering filing a high-net-worth divorce? Whether you need help initiating the process or simply have a few questions, Fenchel Family Law is there for you every step of the way. Our lawyers have first-hand experience picking apart the lengthy and complicated documents associated with high-net-worth divorces as well as building an effective case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Call (415) 805-9069 today to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys.