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Special Issues Facing Pennsylvania Couples in High-Net-Worth Divorces

Divorces between wealthy Pennsylvania couples may develop into complicated and lengthy proceedings. Spouses with valuable and diverse assets will face issues unlike those that arise in a typical divorce, chiefly concerning the identification and valuation of property for purposes of equitable distribution.

High-net-worth divorces often involve complex assets, such as multiple real estate interests, pension accounts, trusts, partnerships and ownership shares in privately held businesses. An appraiser might have to be hired to determine the value of these properties. One of the spouses may not agree with the valuation and may retain their own appraiser who arrives at a different assessment.

In a contested divorce proceeding, there may be questions about whether a spouse is hiding assets. In that case, a forensic accountant might have to be hired to locate hidden assets and investigate the financial history of a spouse. This becomes even more difficult when one of the spouses owns bank accounts or other assets in foreign countries.

One or both of the divorcing spouses may own property that they contend is not marital in nature because it was acquired before the marriage or received individually as an inheritance or a gift. While such assets are not subject to equitable distribution, their appreciation in value during the marriage may be. For instance, if one spouse owned a business before the marriage, the appreciated value of that business at the time of divorce will have to be determined and divided between the spouses.

If, as part of the court’s equitable distribution, certain assets are required to be sold, there may be tax consequences for one or both of the spouses that will need to be taken into account.

A high-net-worth divorce may also involve large spousal support awards, particularly when one spouse has not been employed during the marriage. These awards raise their own tax considerations.

Divorces for wealthy couples can be lengthy and expensive. Often, temporary orders may need to be sought from the court regarding living arrangements, child custody, spousal support and other issues arising while the divorce is pending.

A knowledgeable family law attorney at The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney & Associates, P.C. in Bucks County can provide concrete advice about the special concerns that arise in a divorce between high-asset spouses. Call us at 215.493.3360 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.

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