Some divorce cases run fairly smoothly from beginning to end. Other people may find that child custody, child support, property division, or spousal support issues complicate their divorce case. This is especially for affluent couples. In fact, high net worth divorces present unique problems to the parties and their lawyers.
#1. Property Division Is More Complex
There are several reasons that high net worth couples face an uphill battle when it comes to property division:
- They usually have more property to divide.
- It may be harder to determine whether something is community property or separate property.
- Some assets will be difficult to appraise.
- One or both of the couple own businesses that require in-depth evaluation.
- They may own property in multiple states and even in other countries.
Even the act of gathering and identifying the assets is more challenging in a high net worth divorce.
#2. Forensic Accounting May Be Needed
During a California divorce proceeding, the parties have to submit “a full and accurate disclosure of all assets and liabilities in which one or both parties have an interest.” This mandatory document aids in dividing property, as well as calculating child support and spousal support. But just as there are more assets to divide, there are more assets to hide.
If you have reason to believe your spouse may be attempting to hide assets, you and your attorney may need to call a forensic accountant. Benefits of hiring a forensic accountant include:
- Finding assets hidden by your spouse.
- Comparing assets and financial disclosures to find discrepancies and inconsistencies.
- Assisting with appraisals of valuable assets, properties, and collections.
Failing to account for your spouse’s assets may be a costly mistake.
#3. High Net Worth Divorces May Take Longer
‘Typical’ divorce issues become quite complicated in a high net worth divorce. Couples may spend more time negotiating and wrangling over problems that could be resolved quickly in other divorce cases. Also, they may have to take depositions and get expert reports and testimony to reach a settlement. If they are unable to settle, their divorce may be headed for trial before a California family law judge. All of this takes time, so high net worth divorce tend to take longer to reach their final court order.
#4. Spousal Support May Be More Hotly Contested
Couples may disagree about property division, child support, and child custody. However, some of the most contentious arguments in any divorce revolve around spousal support. Several factors affect support, including:
- How long the couple was married.
- Whether the spouse asking for support can support himself or herself.
- Whether the receiving spouse needs time and training to be self-sufficient.
Sometimes one spouse misuses community assets to support a new relationship. If so, the court may consider this when ruling on spousal support and property division.
#5. Details of Divorce May Make the Tabloids
A fair number of high net worth divorces involve well-known people. Most would like details of their divorce to remain absolutely private. However, salacious details may attract attention from tabloids as paparazzi swarm to get embarrassing photos.
All of this generally unwanted media attention can make a difficult situation almost unbearable. However, if you feel your divorce may attract the press, talk to your divorce lawyer about ways to keep your divorce as confidential as possible.
You Need an Attorney Who Understands High Net Worth Divorces
Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.