High-asset divorces have special considerations that differ from an average divorce. When a divorcing couple has a significant wealth portfolio that may include stocks, investments, multiple homes and properties and a range of other assets, dividing these is a complex challenge.
Other factors can also come into play in a high-asset divorce, such as when one spouse makes an effort to conceal assets from the divorce process to prevent proper division. It is important to understand the unique factors that couples in a high-asset divorce may face, to be prepared to deal with them. Here are three things to be aware of in a high-asset divorce:
1. Retirement plan assets
Retirement plans may not be the most glamorous part of the wealth portfolio, but they can be a significant part of an asset division, especially for a couple where one spouse was the primary breadwinner. The financial future of the non-earner or lower-earning spouse is at stake, and that spouse may be able to qualify to receive part of the other spouse’s benefits. An attorney can help in creating a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, to help in retirement asset division.
2. Hidden assets
Sometimes, one spouse may try to hide assets to prevent them from being subjected to the process of asset division. This is illegal, and a qualified family law attorney can help the client who suspects his or her spouse may be hiding assets. There are many ways a spouse may try to hide assets: hidden cash or stock options, transferring money out of bank accounts, offshore bank accounts or falsified debt. In these cases, it is essential to have a family law attorney who has experience with high-asset divorces and hidden assets to help determine the complete financial picture subject to asset division.
3. Shared business owners
For couples who share a business, asset division is particularly complicated. The business must be valuated and considered part of marital property for division. There are several viable options for settling a shared business during a divorce, ranging from selling the business to reaching an agreement for transferring ownership to one spouse. Legal assistance will be necessary for both the valuation and the asset division.