Unique Challenges in High Net Worth Divorces
Money can buy a lot of things, but unfortunately it can’t buy marital bliss. When an affluent couple divorces, the complexity of the marriage dissolution process can be much greater than normal because of the extensive assets involved.
Property division is an essential part of a high asset divorce. Both spouses have become accustomed to a certain standard of living. Many couples attempt to negotiate a property settlement out of court, with the help of their attorneys. A negotiated settlement prevents you from turning your financial fate over to a judge who does not understand your situation as well as you do.
However, before you can start negotiating, your assets (and debts) must be identified and fairly valued. This isn’t easy with complex, fluctuating assets commonly held by the affluent. You’ll want a Pennsylvania high asset divorce lawyer on your side who knows how to handle the special considerations associated with the division of marital property such as:
- Business interests
- Stock options
- Restricted stock units (RSUs)
- Multiple homes
- Investment properties
- 401(k), IRAs, pensions and other retirement accounts
- Valuable vehicles
- Jewelry, art and other luxury items
If you cannot reach a settlement, then property division becomes a matter for the court. Pennsylvania uses the equitable distribution system, under which property and debt are divided based on what the judge considers to be fair. It does not have to be an even split.
Only “marital property” gets divided by a court. This means any property acquired during marriage, including any appreciation that accrues to assets you owned individually before marriage. For example, if you owned a stock worth $100,000 before you got married and now it’s worth $500,000, the $400,000 gain is subject to division.
Child support and spousal support (alimony) can also lead to conflict in high net worth divorces. The lesser earning spouse may request a significant alimony award because of the difference in incomes. In families of means, children often attend expensive schools and have high-priced extracurricular interests. Specific terms to address these costs are essential as part of child support.
At The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney, P.C., we handle numerous high asset divorces every year for clients in Bucks County and surrounding areas. We have relationships with business valuation experts, accounting specialists and other professionals whom we consult when handling a complex divorce. Our attorneys are strong negotiators and, when necessary, aggressive litigators. Call our Yardley office at 215.493.3360 or contact us online if you would like to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania lawyer about a substantial marital estate and what may happen to it in divorce.