June 08, 2022
The rules for high-asset divorces are identical to those for any other type of divorce, but there is a lot of complicated stuff your divorce attorney has to do before the estate is divested. The reason for that is that valuable assets have complex values that cannot be easily determined just by looking at a price tag. For that reason, you need accountants, appraisers, and more to determine the value of these assets. Below we discuss some of the complexities of dividing assets in a high-asset divorce.
The first concept required to understand how estates are divided is understanding the marital estate. At the moment you become married, you and your spouse begin accruing assets in your marital estate. The primary asset every couple has is their home. That is not true for high-asset couples. They may have lucrative businesses, stocks, bonds, retirement funds, rental properties, and other stakes. So, how do lawyers determine if that belongs to the marital estate or to the individual spouse?
The marital estate begins accruing assets the moment you tie the knot. Even if you brought a business into the marriage, the value the business accrued during the marriage is part of the marital estate. The value the business had prior to the marriage is solely the property of one spouse. Hence, how the matter can become extremely complicated.
In high-asset divorces, an appraiser must determine the value of the business at the start of the marriage and the value of the business at the time of divorce. The difference belongs to the marital estate. While most judges will not necessarily split a business in half, especially when that business is run by one spouse and not the other, the value of the business is considered when divesting the estate. That means that the spouse who does not own the business would be credited the value of the business minus the original value of the business.
Heirlooms and other sentimental objects never become part of the marital estate. However, sometimes people accrue precious assets while they are married. In those cases, those assets do become part of the marital estate. However, an attorney who knows that you want a particular asset will be willing to trade other potential assets, alimony, or any other consideration in the divorce.
Even highly contentious high-asset divorces generally do not go before the court. Why not? High-asset couples generally do not want their finances broadcast for the world to see. If your assets are disputed, the court will be taking an accounting of them to divide. The assets pass through divorce probate and become part of the public record. Hence, most high-asset couples opt for some form of private mediation even when the issues are highly contentious.
The Bellinger Law Office helps high-asset couples divest their estate quickly and quietly. We have the resources you need to appraise complex assets and can help ensure that your future is secured as you begin the next chapter of your life.
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