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The Challenges of a High-Asset Divorce, and How to Navigate Them With the Help of an Experienced Attorney
Let’s look at what a high-asset divorce is and how to work with an experienced attorney who handles high-net-worth splits.
If your divorce case involves a large marital estate, of large assets and significant wealth, you probably already know that special legal considerations are crucial to getting an equitable divorce. In New Jersey, a high-asset divorce can prove to be complex, expensive, and time-consuming. Let’s look at what a high-asset divorce is and how to work with an experienced attorney who handles high-net-worth splits.
What’s a High-Asset Divorce?
Traditionally, a high-asset divorce (also called a “high net worth divorce”) is one where the liquid assets of the divorcing couple exceed $1 million. This million-dollar reference point is relative. Today’s changing financial situation, not to mention inflation, plus geography, means that, depending on the area of the country, a couple owning a $1 million home would technically be a high-asset divorce. Because of this change, the figure is now being used more when there are properties in the multiple millions.
The Challenges of a High-Asset Divorce in New Jersey
In reality, the challenges of a high-asset divorce are the same as any other divorce. In both types of cases, the assets and debts have to be divided. Spousal support is still a very real consideration. And, if the couple has children, custody will need to be decided in the best interest of the child. Visitation and child support will also be assessed and decided.
But what makes a high-asset divorce different from other divorces is that when it comes to dividing the property and assets, the process is longer and more difficult—and ultimately costs more when you factor in legal fees and court costs.
In these situations, one or both spouses usually have some combination of the following:
- Multiple properties (such as rental properties);
- Multiple business sites/offices;
- Retirement accounts; and
- Other miscellaneous properties of high value (such as vehicles, antiques, and jewelry).
Because many of these items may revolve around businesses, more than just the personal finances of the couple are at stake. The business partners may also be involved, as they have an interest in the outcome of the divorce.
Many couples with large personal assets choose to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement on record, which cuts through some of the problems of dividing the assets. But if this isn’t the case, then everything will have to be listed, valued, and then split amongst the two parties according to the court’s decision on what’s equitable.
Because of the nature of assets, there are special considerations:
- Hidden assets: There’s a higher chance that one (or both) of the parties may try to hide personal assets so that they don’t have to include these in the final division. This means that investigative work may be required to track down all these hidden assets to make the division truly fair. (It’s also important to note that when you file your list of assets, any attempts to hide those assets could result in perjury charges, which can seriously compound your legal woes.)
- Difficult calculation of assets: Because many high-asset couples may have specialized possessions, such as antiques, jewelry, artwork, classic cars, and the like—it may be difficult to find someone who’s qualified to give an accurate valuation of those items.
The same is true if the couple has a complex investment portfolio. Giving a true valuation of investments (and ironing out things such as stock voting rights) can be quite complicated. This can sometimes even lead to a standoff between couples who hire their own experts with different opinions on the value of an asset.
- Income fluctuation: Another big issue with high net-worth divorces is income fluctuation. For those who own their own businesses, income can vary greatly from one month to the next. Because of that, it may be hard to peg down an exact dollar value of a business. That’s why experts will need to hash this out, so a precise figure is determined.
- Spousal and child support: A final issue of great importance that can prolong these cases is spousal and child support. Some high-asset divorces feature one partner who earns more money than the other. As a result, the divorce will cause the lower-earning partner to have a greatly reduced standard of living.
To that end, a judge may be asked to rule on spousal support until that partner can get established in the workforce. The same is true of child support. Determining exactly what a spouse in such a case is financially worth is a big factor in deciding how much child support they will have to pay.
The Unique Needs of a High-Asset Divorce Requires Experienced Legal Counsel & Representation
A high-asset divorce boils down to usually taking significantly longer to resolve than a regular divorce. It’s a more time-consuming process to go over finances and reach a consensus when there are so many items to review. Also, because there’s more at stake, the two parties will often be less open to compromise and more insistent on fighting over every single item. This underscores why having a seasoned and experienced family law attorney is so important to help you with such a case.
We offer full-service legal representation and have extensive experience helping clients resolve their high-income divorce matters promptly through negotiations, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolutions. It’s no surprise that when an agreement isn’t possible between you and your ex, our lawyers are fully prepared to go to court to represent and fight for your goals and desired outcomes.
When you need the assistance of an experienced New Jersey high-asset divorce lawyer who can handle the unique circumstances involved in these complicated divorce proceedings, look no further than Smedley Law Group.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce that involves a lot of assets, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like alimony, child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Haddonfield, Pilesgrove, and Westfield. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we’ll fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.