Divorce cases with high net worth individuals are often more complex than other cases simply because of the issues of equitable division of marital property and alimony. In Pennsylvania, divorcing couples have rights to marital property. Divorce lawyers must review all of the assets to determine which assets are considered marital property, the value of the property, and how that property should be equitably divided. In high net worth cases, this process can be challenging due to a number of factors.
TYPES OF ASSETS
High net worth individuals usually have different types of assets that must be equitably divided. These cases involve such assets as:
- Family businesses
- Business ventures
- Bank accounts
- Stock options
- Stocks and bonds
- 401(k)s, IRAs, pensions and other retirement accounts
- Family trusts
- Enhanced earnings
- Professional licenses and degrees
- Executive interests
- Insurance policies
- Lottery winnings
Since equitable division of marital property does not mean equal division, determining the types of assets involved in these cases is the first step. This is a crucial step since a spouse may try to hide assets. An experienced divorce lawyer will use written interrogatories and requests for production of documents that the other spouse will be required to answer. If necessary, a separate investigation can be utilized to search for hidden assets.
Determining the value of the assets is the next step in the process. Determining an exact value can be difficult. Often, it is necessary to hire financial experts, business valuation experts, accountants, real estate appraisers, and others who have the credentials necessary to properly determine values and who can testify in court, if necessary.
Transferring assets by way of divorce will almost certainly have tax consequences. These tax consequences must be fully understood prior to any division or distribution so that the tax impact can be mitigated to the extent possible and so that the net impact on the asset transfer to an individual will not be reduced as a result of the taxes on the transfer.
The final step in the process is to determine how to equitably divide the assets using the equitable division factors that are set forth in the PA Divorce Code. These factors include the length of the marriage, sources of income of both parties, standard of living established during the marriage, to name a few.
COMPLEX DOES NOT MEAN ADVERSARIAL
Not all divorces are adversarial. Even though a divorce may involve complex decisions and determinations involving property rights, it does not mean that the parties to the divorce must fight with each other every step through the process. Complex property issues can be resolved by agreement of the parties just like any other divorce case. Good faith disputes as to the value of an asset or how the assets should be divided are common and these cases can sometimes be resolved through mediation. If all else fails, then these matters are decided by a court after presentation of evidence and testimony. Whether a case is resolved by agreement, mediation or court intervention, high net worth cases must be diligently prepared by an experienced divorce lawyer.
The Martin Law Firm divorce attorneys pride themselves on diligence and thoroughness when they gather, review and evaluate high net worth divorce cases. Contact a divorce lawyer today at 215-687-4053.