High net-worth couples often have unique special circumstances that need to be addressed during a divorce. In a typical divorce, the question of support usually centers on how two separate households can be supported when the single-family unit struggled financially. In high net-worth divorce cases, the question is not how basic living expenses will be met, but rather how much is enough?
Division of Assets in California.
California is a community property state, meaning that any assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equal division by you and your spouse — this can include the growth of an already established business. The community estate, however, does not include separate property that you acquired before the marriage or through gift or inheritance. In principle, this rule seems straightforward; however, like many things in divorce, division of property is often a point of contention.
Protect Yourself If you are considering marriage and already have substantial net-worth, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself, including:
- Entering into a premarital agreement before the marriage;
- Quantify the financial lifestyle of the marriage;
- Take any necessary steps to protect your business interests;
- Consult with your financial advisor, attorney, and accountant to identify and value any assets and liabilities. This is especially important if you have substantial business holdings or a professional practice that is more difficult to value.
High net-worth couples must deal with a number of unique issues that aren’t typical in divorce. If you are going through or are considering divorce and there are substantial assets involved, you need an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases; in the end, it will be well worth the while.