Pretty much any divorce case can be stressful for the parties involved. However, when the divorcing spouses have a high net worth, the process can be extremely complicated. This is especially true if the parties are not able to agree on some or all of the issues that are in dispute during the divorce proceedings.
One of the most important steps that you can take in a high-net-worth divorce proceeding is to retain an experienced divorce attorney to represent you throughout your case. Your lawyer can work to ease some of the stress associated with the divorce proceedings and can explain all of your legal options in clear and easy-to-understand terms. If your attorney is not able to amicably resolve all of the issues that are in dispute, you would need to turn to the courts to determine the terms of your divorce, including dividing your wealth, and they can help protect your financial rights.
Property Division in a Divorce
Different states have different laws regarding property division in divorce. Some states are community property states, while jurisdictions like Maryland and Washington, DC, follow the principles of equitable distribution of marital property.
This means that spouses divide all property, assets, and debts they acquired during marriage (with some exceptions) in a manner that is fair given the circumstances of the case. Some marital property that might be divided between high-wealth spouses includes:
- Multiple real properties
- Multiple vehicles or recreational vehicles
- Business interests
- Investment portfolios
- Retirement plans
It is important to have a complete picture of all the property to be divided and ensure your spouse is not trying to hide assets, which is more common in a high-wealth divorce than others.
Ascertaining the value of certain tangible assets, like bank accounts and retirement accounts, is relatively straightforward. However, it is usually far more difficult to determine the value of a business or other complex assets, such as real estate, personal property, bonds, stocks, and executive compensation plans. It often takes an appraisal expert to value these assets properly and to determine what their future value is likely to be – ensuring that they are divided equitably and fairly in the event of a divorce.
Standard of Living Impact
In addition to valuing monetary and tangible assets in a high-net-worth divorce proceeding, courts will look to the standard of living that both of the spouses enjoyed during the course of the marriage. The standard of living assessment can affect the value of any settlement, along with the amount that one spouse will have to pay the other spouse in child support and/or alimony.
Seek the Right Legal Help
If you are currently in the midst of a high-net-worth divorce, it is essential that you have an experienced family law attorney in your area representing you throughout your divorce matter. Generally speaking, divorcing spouses are happier when they are able to resolve all of the disputed issues themselves, rather than leaving the decision up to a family court judge. An experienced DC and Maryland attorney can assist you with resolving your disputed legal issues, and if it becomes necessary, litigating them in the courtroom.