Divorces involving a great deal of assets require the specialized attention of an experienced matrimonial attorney. High net worth divorce cases involve extensive discovery production and analysis periods. This process includes property and business valuations, as well as the distribution of retirement and pension accounts. The process can be long and tedious, but can be made easier with the right representation.
What is a high net worth divorce?
A high net worth divorce involves a greater amount of tangible and intangible assets:
All marital assets are subject to equitable distribution during divorce proceedings, so couples who share a large amount of property or money face a larger and longer analysis of their existing property.
Equitable Distribution in New York State
New York State divides assets in a process known as equitable distribution. You and your partner will have both separate property and marital property. Marital property, property acquired by either spouse during marriage, will be divided between the two of you as fairly as possible. This does not mean, however, that assets are split evenly between spouses. Instead, both parties will work to come to an agreement that fairly distributes assets and determines support obligations. If parties cannot come to an agreement, a judge will intervene and issue a judgment.
Prolonged Discovery Process
A greater amount of assets means a lengthy discovery process. Your attorney will extensively review financial documents and work with appraisers to value property and business interests. In some cases, records will need to be subpoenaed from various institutions.
To save both time and money, it is recommended that you begin working on your Statement of Net Worth as soon as possible. It is also imperative to provide your lawyer with copies of all financial and loan statements, insurance information, and any other documents related to your assets as early in your work together as possible, but certainly prior to the beginning of the discovery process.
Professional Licenses and Degrees
Certain professional licenses or degrees can result in a higher earning potential, and may be subject to equitable distribution during divorce. This especially rings true if one spouse supported the other financially while they pursued their advanced degree, or paid for part of the tuition. In order for one spouse to have a claim to the increased earning potential an advanced degree or license provides, they must prove that it is marital property. This means that a portion of the degree must have been earned during the course of the marriage.
Due to the flexibility of equitable distribution laws in New York, there is no standard percentage or amount that one spouse may receive during divorce. For more information, contact an experienced New York State family law attorney.
Property and Business Valuations
Businesses and pieces of real estate must be properly appraised during a high net worth divorce. A judge will typically order a specific appraisal company to complete thorough evaluations during the discovery process. Appraisers compile and review financial and ownership paperwork, such as deeds, expenses, and loan documents. When valuing a piece of real estate, appraisers compare similar properties in the area to determine market value.
If one spouse is a business owner, then the company may be divided as part of New York’s equitable distribution of marital assets. A business founded before a marriage can fall prey to distribution if its value appreciated during the union. Additionally, the non-owning spouse must produce sufficient evidence proving that they contributed to the company’s success through financial support or labor.
Jewelry and Art Appraisals
Fine jewelry, art, and collectibles are subject to equitable distribution if purchased during the marriage. Items received from an inheritance remain separate property, unless they become comingled with marital assets. For instance, if you owned a vacation home prior to your marriage, it remains your separate property unless you add your spouse’s name to the deed, or your spouse invested time and money into improving the property.
Avoid Litigation and Preserve Your Assets
Litigation is expensive, and can quickly drain your savings. In order to protect your assets, you should try to settle your case outside of the courtroom. One big advantage to efficiently resolving a high net worth divorce is the execution of pre- and postnuptial agreements. If you are able to agree on a legal outline as to how assets are to be divided in the event of divorce, while also stipulating spousal support payments, you will save yourself time, money, and headache should a need for the division of assets arise. The best way to save money during a high net worth divorce is to plan in advance and/or take precautions before a divorce is commenced.
High Net Worth Divorce Specialists
You’ve worked hard to build your business and your net worth, and you shouldn’t risk losing it all in a contested divorce. The attorneys at Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. specialize in high net worth divorce actions and are experts in discovery and equitable distribution. From settling cases to fighting for your right to keep your hard earned assets, Mr. Perskin and his team are ready to advocate on your behalf. Contact 718-875-7584 to schedule your free consultation today!