woman taking her ring off and looking at it to signify a divorce
Wail Sarieh
By: Wail Sarieh

TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR A HIGH ASSET DIVORCE (HOW TO KEEP WHAT’S YOURS)

Divorce

In southern California, if you and your spouse own considerable assets, and if your divorce can be characterized as a “high net worth” divorce, you must be advised and represented by an experienced Orange County divorce attorney from the very beginning of the divorce process.

If you don’t have a good attorney fighting aggressively to protect your interests, what can happen in a contested, high net worth divorce? What tactics can you expect the other side to use against you? Keep reading. You’ll learn the answers to those questions – and more about your rights.

WHAT MAKES A HIGH ASSET DIVORCE DIFFERENT?

Almost every divorce will have complications and difficulties, but couples who have significant assets also have unique considerations. When substantial assets are contested, acrimony and conflict can escalate rapidly.

A divorce in southern California does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose half of what’s yours. A good Orange County divorce lawyer can help you protect your real estate, your stocks and bonds, and your retirement accounts.

Often in California, and particularly in high asset divorce cases, the partner with the financial power may deceive, bully, and try to demoralize the other partner by hiding assets or by closing or emptying accounts. The message is: “Take an unfair settlement now, or you’ll go broke.”

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IN ADVANCE OF A DIVORCE?

What can you do to prepare in advance for a high net worth divorce proceeding? Consider the following recommendations:

  1. Know your marital assets. You and your spouse will have to file full financial disclosures as part of the divorce process, but you need to know – and to be able to document – the full extent of your marital assets. You may want to start taking those steps immediately.
  2. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets to shield those assets from equitable division in your divorce, compile the evidence that makes you suspicious, and express your suspicions to your divorce attorney at once.

Consider hiring a financial professional for help with understanding and documenting marital assets. If you’re up to the task, start compiling and making copies of bank and credit statements, tax returns, mortgage and insurance documents, and anything else that might be pertinent.

WHY IS PREPARING IN ADVANCE FOR A DIVORCE SO IMPERATIVE?

If you understand your marital assets and have the documents to back up that understanding, you will be well-equipped to help your divorce lawyer fight for your rights, and you will be in the best position to insist on the fair and just divorce settlement that you need and deserve.

In a high net worth divorce, a good divorce attorney will usually consult with a forensic accountant – an expert at uncovering hidden assets. The signs of hidden assets can include but are not limited to unexpectedly closed accounts and abruptly transferred assets.

However, if you prepare properly for a high-asset divorce and you have help from a reliable California divorce attorney, you should be able to move through the divorce process and into the future positively, constructively, and without losing any of your personal properties or assets.

HOW DOES THIS STATE DEFINE “MARITAL” PROPERTY?

Marital property is supposed to be split “equitably” and “fairly” in the California divorce process. California defines marital property as all properties and assets earned or acquired in the course of a marriage except for anything exclusively given to one partner as a gift or inheritance.

Liquidation is not necessarily required for divided marital properties in a California divorce. However, the law states that each spouse must receive assets of “equal value” unless the divorcing spouses both consent voluntarily to another arrangement.

In a high asset divorce in California, the lawyers for both spouses will thoroughly review and investigate each partner’s finances and assets.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN SPOUSES TRY TO HIDE ASSETS?

It may not sound like much of a challenge, but an accurate and equitable division of the marital assets can be exceptionally difficult in a divorce, especially when the divorce is contested and one or both spouses is a high net worth individual.

California is serious when it requires divorcing spouses to disclose all of their financial details. If a spouse tries to hide assets with false, incomplete, or exaggerated information on the disclosure documents, that spouse could be held in contempt of court or even charged with perjury.

A business, a vacation home, or even a family pet could end up at the center of a property dispute, so you must work with a divorce lawyer who can see to it that every asset is categorized properly as an individual property or as marital property – and that your assets are protected.

SHOULD YOU MAKE A SETTLEMENT OFFER?

Your divorce lawyer may suggest making a settlement offer early in the process. Your first offer may not be accepted, but if you’re a high net worth individual, you already know how to assess risks, costs, and benefits, and you know when to compromise and when to firmly dig in.

When spouses can reach their own agreements about marital properties and assets, the court will usually approve those agreements. Compromises save both partners time and money, and you’ll avoid much of the strife that so many couples go through on the way to a final divorce decree.

High net worth divorces do not have to entail conflict and acrimony. One of the best ways to prepare for a high asset divorce is to seek solutions and compromises that can mean a secure financial future for both parties. Your divorce lawyer will help you find the solutions you need.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A DIVORCE LAWYER?

You must have legal representation immediately if you and your spouse are divorcing in southern California. An experienced Orange County divorce attorney will fight aggressively to ensure that your divorce is fair and that you do not lose anything that is rightfully yours.

If you are thinking about seeking a divorce – or if you are anticipating that your spouse will file divorce papers – get the legal help that you are going to need as early as possible in the process.

And if you are a high net worth individual, schedule a legal consultation with a reliable California divorce attorney before taking any other steps. You have the right to a fair divorce settlement, and you have the right to a good attorney’s help.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh