What is Considered a High-Asset Divorce?

No two divorce cases are exactly alike. Every couple and family is different, with unique challenges that may arise during their dissolution of marriage. One possibility is a high-asset divorce, or one in which the marital assets are particularly high in value. These are complex cases that often need oversight from an experienced divorce lawyer in Orange County

Do I Have a High-Asset Divorce?

In general, a couple is considered to have a high-asset divorce if their marital assets are valued at $1 million or more. Marital assets include all income, properties, vehicles, valuables, jewelry, collectibles, investments, savings, businesses and other belongings that the couple acquired throughout the course of their marriage. It does not include separate property, which are assets that were owned by each individual prior to the marriage and gifts or inheritance given only to one spouse during the union.

What Are the Unique Challenges of a High-Asset Divorce? 

In California, the courts abide by a community property division law during divorce cases. Under this rule, all marital property accumulated during the marriage will be divided down the middle if the case goes to court. Each spouse will receive 50 percent of the community, which refers to everything except separate assets. If you and your spouse wish to avoid a 50/50 split, your high-asset divorce case will need to reach a settlement.

Many issues and complexities need to be addressed during a high-asset divorce to protect your marital property, including: 

  • Complex assets: property such as jointly owned businesses, investments, stock options, pension plans, real estate investments and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders may need financial and accounting experts to navigate.
  • Hidden assets: an investigation may need to be completed to ensure that your ex-spouse is not hiding any assets or offshore accounts.  The discovery of undisclosed assets or accounts held in foreign jurisdictions can lead to an individual being held in contempt of court.
  • Spousal support or alimony: determining whether the lower-earning spouse qualifies for alimony payments from the higher earner – and either fighting for or against a spousal support order – may take assistance from a knowledgeable attorney.

In addition, high-value estates have complicated tax issues and considerations, including the tax implications of dividing property in a divorce. An experienced high-net-worth divorce attorney in Orange County can help you navigate these complex issues, as well as other important matters during a divorce case, such as child custody and child support.

Do I Need an Attorney for a High-Asset Divorce in California?

It is common for both parties involved in a high-asset divorce case in California to seek legal representation from experienced family law attorneys. Hiring an attorney is the most effective way to protect your high-value assets during a divorce. Your lawyer will have the skill and experience to handle complex financial matters, as well as in-depth knowledge of the state’s divorce and community property laws. 

If you have a lot to potentially lose in a high-asset divorce case, such as years of hard-earned income, it can be crucial to hire an attorney for trustworthy legal and financial advice. Your lawyer can help ensure the fair and equitable division of your high-net-worth marital property, such as by helping you reach a settlement outside of court through mediation or arbitration.

For more information about how to successfully navigate a high-asset divorce case in California, contact Boyd Law for a free case evaluation.