By Anna Yakle, Tentinger Law Firm
Most people are aware that divorce involves the division of marital assets, but this process becomes more complicated in a high-asset divorce. The same legal standard applies (i.e. “equitable division”) to division of marital assets no matter how much property is involved, but the stakes are particularly high when there is a substantial amount of assets. In this situation, it is especially important to ensure that all assets are disclosed and valuated properly. Such assets include real estate, checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, businesses and material goods accrued during the marriage such as furniture or art collections. An experienced divorce attorney can help you through the process of exchanging asset information and can refer you to the appropriate experts for valuation.
In a high-asset divorce, there may also be more of a temptation and ability to hide assets, particularly when one party is more sophisticated financially. Both parties are legally obligated to provide full financial disclosure, but if you believe that your spouse is hiding assets, it may be necessary to hire a tax valuation specialist or forensic accountant to determine whether full financial disclosure has, in fact, occurred. The consequences of hiding assets can be severe. Not only can a judge give more than half of the hidden assets to the other party, but the judge can also award attorney fees and costs.
A high-asset divorce is also likely to include a claim for spousal maintenance or alimony if one party makes much less income than the other and a longer term marriage is involved. The amount of property allocated to the spouse seeking spousal maintenance is a major factor in determining whether that spouse can maintain his or her standard of living without financial assistance from the spouse with higher income. Because of this, it is important for both spouses to anticipate their future needs and contingencies when dividing assets. Financial experts can provide assistance in this area. An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine whether it makes sense to hire a financial expert in your case.
Because of the stakes involved in a high-asset divorce, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney. To speak with an attorney experienced in high-asset divorce, contact Tentinger Law Firm at www.tentingerlawfirm.com or 952-953-3330.