The prospect of going through a divorce is stressful for anyone. However, for those with a high net worth, that is especially so.
Not only is a high-asset divorce stressful, but it also presents very high stakes. Issues surrounding the can also become exceedingly complex, making it imperative to work with a knowledgeable and experienced high-asset divorce attorney.
At Vantage Group Legal Services, we work with a committed team of divorce and family law attorneys with extensive experience assisting high-net-worth individuals through the divorce process.
Looking for a divorce attorney who can take on a high-net-worth case?
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Property Division: The Toughest Issue in Many High Asset Divorces
The fact that you and your soon-to-be-ex have significant assets bears on some, but not all, of the issues that must be decided in a divorce. Primarily, high-net-worth divorces are complex due to issues surrounding the valuation and division of property.
Generally speaking, property division in an Illinois divorce is not a complex undertaking. For example, all assets owned by either spouse before the marriage tend to remain with the spouse who owned them. On the other hand, all assets acquired during the marriage are considered marital property. Marital property is subject to the rules of equitable distribution.
Under an equitable distribution framework, the court will look at a variety of factors when dividing a couple’s assets, including:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marital property,
- The length of the marriage,
- The financial situation of each spouse,
- The existence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement,
- Each spouse’s future income potential,
- The tax consequences of dividing the property,
- Whether either party is seeking spousal maintenance,
- Each spouse’s opportunity to acquire assets in the future, and
- The age and health of the spouses.
Notably, the court will not consider a spouse’s misconduct that may have led to the deterioration of the marriage when distributing a couple’s assets.
The following are some of the issues that frequently come up in high-asset divorces, which tend to make them more complex.
Assets May Be Held in a Trust
Depending on the type of trust, assets contained in a trust may be considered when the court divides a couple’s assets. However, dividing trust assets presents challenges because they are sometimes less liquid, requiring an offset from other property.
Many high-net-worth individuals own businesses. In some cases, to arrive at an agreed-upon valuation of the business, one or more expert witnesses are required.
High-value assets, such as collections, automobiles, artwork, jewelry, and real estate, can pose challenges when distributing a couple’s total assets. These high-value assets may need to be liquidated unless one party has other assets to “buy out” the other spouse.
Inherently, most retirement accounts are illiquid, making them unique and, sometimes, challenging to fit into a plan for the distribution of assets.
Those discussed above are just a few of the issues high-income couples face when going through a divorce. Other issues include:
- Determining the future earning capacity of both spouses;
- Assessing the value of stock options, bonds, and real estate holdings;
- The possibility that one or both spouses hid or wasted assets leading up to the divorce; and
- The existence of pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.
If you own significant assets, you should be sure to consult with an attorney who regularly handles divorces for high-net-worth clients. That way, you can be sure that your attorney understands the stakes and additional work involved in handling a case of this nature.
Is a Marital Settlement Agreement the Best Option for a High Asset Divorce?
Given the uncertainty involved in letting a court decide how to divide your hard-earned assets, many divorcing couples first try to negotiate a marital settlement agreement. A marital settlement agreement is a written agreement that covers the division of the property and liabilities of you and your spouse. While there is some level of judicial oversight, a court will honor a settlement agreement, provided it is fair and the product of negotiation. If the court rejects a settlement agreement, you can re-approach the bargaining table to address the court’s concerns and then resubmit the settlement agreement to the court.
Of course, it is common for there to be difficulties when trying to negotiate a divorce settlement agreement that both protects your interests and is acceptable to your soon-to-be-ex. However, an attorney can help. Once attorneys get involved in the process, the negotiation process becomes less emotional, as the attorneys are the ones communicating with one another, rather than you and your spouse.
Contact a High-Asset Divorce Attorney to Schedule a Free Consultation Today
If you foresee a high-asset divorce in your future, it is imperative that you reach out to an experienced high-net-worth divorce lawyer as soon as possible. At Vantage Legal Group, we use a unique system to pair you up with a highly skilled attorney that can effectively guide you through the divorce process while aggressively advocating on your behalf.
Our attorneys are some of the best in the industry, and all possess the highest degree of honesty, integrity, energy, and intelligence. Further, each of our lawyers has at least seven years of personal experience practicing law in a single practice area. This ensures you work with an attorney who has the skill, knowledge, and dedication needed to effectively pursue your best interests.
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, give Vantage Group Legal Services a call at 773-232-4768. You can also connect with us through our online contact form and one of our lawyers will be in touch shortly.