Going through a divorce is always a complicated process, laden with emotions and uncertainty. Things get more complex when the couple choosing to end their marriage have high-value assets or own a business together. The discovery process is more involved, there may be corporate policies and bylaws to be considered, and disagreements can get considerably more intense with so much wealth at stake.
If you are involved or soon to be involved in a high net worth or high asset divorce, it is vital that you secure legal representation that is familiar with not only the complexities of family law but also with the financial and legal issues at play when the marital property is of a high value.
In this article, we’ll look at some issues specific to high-net-worth divorce and things to look for in a high-net-worth divorce attorney.
Your High Net Worth Divorce Attorney Should be Experienced
Most divorces involve couples of modest or moderate means. Property is limited to a house and maybe a small vacation home, cash assets and investments that total less than a million dollars, and no business matters or concerns. Nearly all family lawyers have experience working through the complexities of this type of divorce.
High net worth divorces are a completely different animal, with more moving parts and greater legal complexity:
- Assets are usually complex, with multiple investments and investment accounts, several real estate holdings, collections of art or other items with significant value, and both real and unrealized business assets.
- One or both spouses may have significant premarital wealth, and there may or may not have been a pre- or postnuptial agreement.
- With more money and property at stake, the chance of one or both parties attempting to hide or disguise assets is much greater than in other divorce cases.
A high-net-worth divorce attorney must have experience navigating these complicated cases’ myriad issues and potential pitfalls. You should ask potential lawyers about their track record in handling high-net-worth divorces and choose a firm that has delivered successful outcomes for several clients.
Your High-Net-Worth Divorce Attorney Should Have a Good Team
Managing the various aspects of a high-net-worth divorce, especially a contentious one, requires a solid team backing up the attorneys representing both sides. When choosing an attorney, look for one with a strong support team, including:
- Financial experts
- Attorneys with other specialties, such as corporate or real estate law
These additional supporting professionals will provide evidence, expert testimony, and other insights into assessing the actual value of both party’s property and assets so that the mediators, arbitrators, and courts can accurately settle the separation of property.
Your High Net Worth Divorce Attorney Should Explore ADR Options
Court proceedings are public records, and getting a court record sealed requires a particular set of standards to be met. In a high-asset divorce, there is a considerable likelihood that one or both spouses will have a vested interest in keeping their private and/or business lives out of the public eye.
Your high-net-value divorce lawyer’s priority should be helping you maintain your privacy. One of the best ways to do that is to pursue a settlement outside of court. Using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practices such as arbitration and mediation, your attorney can keep your privacy intact.
Additionally, ADR options are typically faster than a settlement through the courts and are more likely than litigation to end with a result favorable to both parties.
Your High Net Worth Divorce Attorney Should be Honest
This trait may seem like an obvious one. However, there are still far too many unscrupulous attorneys in the market today that will not discourage their clients from making risky choices that can put them at risk of a disadvantageous settlement or disbursement or even cause them to run afoul of the law.
If you are considering a high-net-worth divorce attorney, and they suggest ways to hide, withhold, or disguise assets before the divorce, you should walk away immediately. Any lawyer claiming to be able to guide you through the process of hiding assets is, at the very best, deluding you and themselves.
Particularly now, when investigative tools are more thorough than ever and recordkeeping by financial and other institutions is highly accurate, hiding assets is almost impossible. Attempting to do so is illegal, and being discovered in the process will – at best – lead to an unfavorable outcome in your divorce settlement. At worst, you could be held in contempt of court or found guilty of fraud and face criminal charges.
You Should Have Good Rapport With Your High Net Value Divorce Attorney
You will be spending a lot of time with your attorney. They will meet with you repeatedly to discuss the case, discuss various options and processes, prepare you for depositions, mediations, and/or trial, and possibly examine you on the witness stand.
It is essential to choose a high-net-value divorce attorney with whom you have a good rapport. They do not need to be your new best friend, but you should feel like you can trust them, that they are listening and concerned with your future, and that they are genuinely working in your best interest.
If you are meeting with a potential lawyer and feel they are being inattentive, incurious, or disrespectful of your situation and your time, you should keep looking.
High Net Value Divorces Are Complicated – We Can Help: Call EMC Family Law Today!