Category: Family Law Posted on Dec 05, 2018

The Complexities of a High Net Worth Divorce

high net worth divorceHigh net worth divorces or high-income divorces involve a complex and vast number of assets or sources of income. Some of these are not easy to put a value to.

Our West Hartford divorce attorneys have the experience and the know how to find the answers in your divorce. Understanding the psychology of the situation can be as important as doing the math. We advise our clients of practical and fair solutions, and the client decides how to proceed. We provide the guidance and recommendations.

With high income or substantial assets, it takes an added effort to determine what belongs to who and how the assets should be divided. As the stakes go up in a high net worth divorce, the tendency may be for one or sometimes both to be more tenacious. Children are a significant part of our focus and may further complicate the situation.

Property may require dueling evaluations by experts. The experts determine the value of certain assets and future expectancy. Future expectancy includes such things as business growth, stock options or deferred compensation.

Bruce Stanger is an entrepreneur and formerly on the board of a local chapter of an international entrepreneurial organization. He has firsthand knowledge of the business and emotional aspects of business endeavors. Because of this, he brings an added understanding of the goals and expectations of both a business owner and spouse.

If you’re seeking a high net worth divorce, you need an attorney with the experience necessary to manage the division of property, assets, bank accounts, and investments. The attorneys at Stanger Stanfield Law will give you the attention you need and understand what works and what doesn’t.

In addition to experience representing spouses in divorces and post-judgment motions, we sue prior counsel, or lawyers for our clients, who have screwed up our client’s divorces.

Give Bruce a call or contact us online for more information.

Dividing Assets in a High Net Worth Divorce in Connecticut

In accord with Connecticut law, the distribution of assets in the divorce must be fair.

Consideration must be given to finding hidden assets. For example, pre-paying taxes. A spouse may think he or she will get away with these. We have seen it. We have helped research with private investigators, asset searches, and forensic accounting in different types of cases. The goal is for the client to decide what we should and should not do, based on our advice.

Fairness does not mean that all assets will be split 50-50. Property is generally considered in two different categories.

  1. Premarital property is the portion of the current value of property which is still owned from before the marriage that still belongs to only one spouse.
  2. Marital property is the property that belongs to the couple together or individually which was obtained from whatever source, since they were married. This also includes the increase in value of the owned premarital property that occurred during the marriage.

In Connecticut, a judge is allowed to consider not only marital property but also each spouse’s premarital property in certain circumstances by varying methods.

The value of the premarital property generally stays with the spouse who owned it before marriage. Finding the exceptions and fighting for them or defending against them can make all the difference in the right circumstances. We offer practical advice on what is worth fighting for and when not to get into fights that will be more expensive than the likely results.

When both parties can agree on what belongs to who and how to divide the value, this process can go smoothly, cost less money, and keep the decisions within the family. If they can’t, then the courts or an arbitrator must intervene to come to a decision that will be tense, take more time and money and often is not best for everyone.

Factors Affecting Division of Property

Many factors can play into the division of property. These include each spouses’:

  • Custodial relationship to the children,
  • Age, health, and earning power,
  • Contribution to the deterioration of the marriage,
  • Amount of income and sources of income,
  • Assets
  • Prior inheritance, and
  • Even possible future inheritance.

The court will also take into account any prenuptial agreement that might exist.

If one spouse has pursued fault-based grounds against the other spouse and successfully proves those grounds, the court can use that information to skew asset division. Clearly false accusations of fault-based grounds may actually backfire.

GET HELP WITH YOUR DIVORCE.

You need a lawyer who has experience with high net worth assets.

Mediation and Private Arbitration vs. Engaging the Courts

If the courts are forced to intervene in the situation, then the details of the dispute as well as the distribution of property become a matter of a higher profile public record. Many high earning or net worth spouses—regardless of how much bad blood is present between them—choose to settle their differences through mediation or arbitration, for that reason alone.

Another reason is, of course, to keep the peace as best as can be done within the now fracturing family. Collaborative Divorce is great – Bruce is trained in it – and finds it helpful for the right case.

In some cases, however, the courts must be involved to decide key matters when the spouses cannot. A brief court involvement will be necessary even if all is agreed to or decided elsewhere, typically a 10 or 20 minute hearing with all parties agreeing and the Judge saying well done.

Here is a practice tip, if a lawyer tells you that you can arbitrate all issues in a case to a conclusion with certainty have your lawyer call me. A recent case found that an arbitration is not valid if it included certain children related issues and a court always has the authority to pass on the fairness of all the issues in the “deal” even if both parties agree.

Talk to a Skilled Connecticut High Net Worth Divorce Attorney Today

If you are involved in a high net worth divorce, talk to Bruce Stanger at Stanger Stanfield Law.

We follow the requirements of the Rules of Professional Responsibility that the client is informed, and the client makes critical decisions. We will work with you on the balance you are interested in with frequent, open and clear communications. Calls and emails are answered promptly. We make ourselves available.

We will provide you the personal availability and attention you want for your case. Give us a call or contact us online to set up an appointment.