Divorce can be a challenging process for anyone, regardless of income or assets, but when there’s a lot at stake, the situation can become complex quickly. High-asset divorces can take a lot of time and go through long and arduous negotiations. Additionally, many special considerations can come into play, especially when there are children involved. Here’s what you should know if you’re involved in a divorce situation when many assets are at stake.
Financial Complications of a High-Value Divorce
Some of the biggest concerns in a divorce are in the area of asset division—how property will be split up. When one or both partners has a significant amount of assets, even the simple act of coming up with a proper valuation of those assets can take time, be costly, and require expertise. Your attorney may need to work with other professionals to be sure that any shares, stock options, or other business interests are correctly valued, as well as do the accounting for real estate holdings, retirement accounts, valuable art, collectibles, and any other investments or overseas holdings.
Since Washington is a community property state, assets owned by both partners or those acquired after marriage, with limited exception, are all considered marital property. This means, both partners have an equal ownership interest, and as such, these assets should be divided equally—although that doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split.
In some situations, the couple may have a prenuptial agreement, which can be helpful with the division of assets. With a prenup, it may already be decided what assets will go to which spouse, whether alimony will be paid and in what amount, and so on. These contractual agreements are usually honored by the court, although they may be contested if found to be unconscionable, signed under duress, or fraudulent in nature.
Child Support and Custody Issues in a High-Asset Divorce
Since basic assets or the ability to financially support the child may not be an issue in a high-asset divorce, the court may look at several other factors to make a determination about any child support payments. This may include paying or sharing the costs of:
- Tuition at a private school
- Any private tutoring, lessons, or hobbies
- Nanny, au pair, or other caretaker costs
The court generally expects that the child’s life be kept stable as much as possible, and this can include maintaining a standard of living, schooling, and housing arrangements. These can result in both child support and alimony payments that are higher than they would be otherwise in a divorce situation with fewer assets.
Child custody arrangements, created via a Washington state parenting plan, can also change when there is a high net worth involved, particularly if one or both partners travel frequently or keep long hours due to work responsibilities. It’s often best if both partners can come up with a parenting plan that they both find mutually agreeable early on, and more and more the court is finding that 50/50 shared custody is a preferred option, unless there are special circumstances. The court will ultimately make a decision about custody and support based on what it finds to meet the best interests of the child.
Get Legal Help for a High-Asset Divorce
High net worth individuals have a lot at stake when it comes to divorce, and it’s critical to have experienced legal representation on your side. Your attorney will be able to help you sort through the marital assets and debts, negotiate a parenting plan, and ensure that prenuptial or separation agreements are followed. An attorney will not only have the experience and expertise that you need but will also know other professionals that can help you succeed in this new phase of your life.
If you have any questions about your divorce situation, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny is here to help. Contact us by phone, or use the contact form to send an email and arrange a private consultation with an attorney in our Bellevue office today.