Wail Sarieh
By:

High Net Worth Divorces And Alimony

Divorce

If you are a person who owns substantial property and assets, you could lose a great deal in a contested California divorce proceeding. A final divorce settlement divides property and assets and sometimes requires one spouse to also make alimony and child support payments. If you are a high net worth individual, keep reading, and you will learn how an experienced divorce lawyer can help you protect what is yours.

Every divorce is different, of course, so high net worth individuals who are divorcing in southern California must be able to rely on the insights and sound legal advice that an experienced Orange County divorce attorney can provide. If you are divorcing or anticipating a divorce, and you are a high net worth individual, schedule a legal consultation with an attorney before you take any other steps.

Your first meeting with your attorney may address:

– child custody and child support matters
– spousal support (alimony)
– the division of properties, assets, and debts
– the valuations of any businesses the couple or either partner may own
– any pre-nuptial agreement the couple may have

HOW ARE CHILD CUSTODY, CHILD SUPPORT, AND ALIMONY HANDLED?

A child custody, child support, or spousal support dispute will be resolved in one of three ways in this state: by an immediate agreement, by a negotiated agreement, or by a court order. When divorcing spouses can reach their own agreement regarding child support, custody, or alimony, a California judge – usually – will accept that agreement. This is the least costly way to resolve a child support, custody, or alimony dispute.

Determining how much child support one parent will pay to the other is not always easy. Yes, California child support calculations usually rely on a computer program to tell judges what child support amount should be ordered. But for high net worth individuals, the calculations will be more complicated than they would be for a middle-income parent who earns regular wages and has taxes withheld.

When divorcing spouses cannot agree regarding custody, child support, or alimony, their attorneys will attempt to negotiate an agreement. If they succeed, that agreement will probably be approved by the judge. But if no agreements can be reached, a judge will issue court orders covering custody, child support, or alimony when the divorce is finalized.

HOW ARE MARITAL PROPERTIES, ASSETS, AND DEBTS HANDLED?

If you are a high net worth individual, the division of marital properties, assets, and debts may be the riskiest aspect of a California divorce proceeding. You could lose a lot in a contested divorce. In southern California, you must be represented by an experienced Orange County divorce attorney who can protect your businesses, real estate, and your other key possessions and holdings.

Property that is acquired during a marriage, with several narrow exceptions, is presumed to be marital property. Any property owned before the marriage is classified as individual property. Marital property does not have to be liquidated, but the law requires each spouse to receive assets of “equal value” unless the divorcing partners voluntary consent to some other agreement.

It doesn’t sound daunting, but a fair and accurate and division of marital property in this state can be exceedingly difficult. A divorce in California requires declarations of disclosure – legal forms that both partners must complete – which list all of the marital and personal property that has been acquired during the marriage. Let an experienced Orange County divorce attorney help you with this important paperwork.

WHAT FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES ARE REQUIRED?

Both divorcing partners must declare their incomes, expenses, and debts so that the court knows the precise financial status of each. The spouse who initiates the divorce must file a declaration of disclosure with the divorce petition or within the next sixty days. The other spouse must file a declaration of disclosure along with his or her response to the divorce petition or within sixty days of that response.

If you own a business, of course it must be protected. If you have spent years building that business, even the thought of losing half of it may be inconceivable to you. How can any operation survive that loses half of its value? Even if the business was launched in the course of the marriage, that does not necessarily mean that the business will be categorized as marital property.

Real estate can also complicate a California divorce. Many couples own commercial properties, investment properties, ranch and farm land, and vacation homes. The first concern with real estate during a divorce is determining its precise value – which is almost always fluctuating. A second concern is deciding whether a property will be liquidated or retained by one partner in exchange for some other consideration.

A business, real estate, art objects, jewelry, and even the family pet can be at the center of a marital property dispute. You must be represented by an attorney who ensures that every asset is properly categorized as marital or as individual property. Your attorney must also ensure that every asset is accurately appraised and that your interests are fully protected throughout the divorce proceeding.

SHOULD YOU MAKE A SETTLEMENT OFFER BEFORE THE DIVORCE IS FINAL?

If you are a high net worth individual in southern California, an experienced Orange County divorce attorney will help you protect your businesses, real estate holdings, equities, bonds, retirement accounts, and inheritances during a divorce proceeding. Your attorney may, in fact, recommend that you make a settlement offer early in the divorce process.

If you have all of the information that you need to make a reasonable offer, and your attorney agrees, do it. When you make a settlement offer, base it on the facts and on the law. Do not expect your first offer to be accepted immediately – you may have to compromise a bit – but if you are a high net worth individual, you know how to evaluate costs, risks, and benefits, when to compromise, and when to stand firm.

Usually, in a high net worth divorce proceeding in California, the attorneys for both sides comprehensively investigate and examine both partners’ finances. You must have an experienced Orange County divorce attorney advocating aggressively on your behalf if you are a high net worth individual and your divorce involves successful businesses, multiple properties, significant investments, and other high net worth assets.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh