What Is Considered a High-Asset Divorce?

Generally speaking, a high-asset divorce involves a couple who has accumulated over one million dollars in marital assets, which may include real estate, luxury vehicles, retirement accounts, business ownerships, and other financial investments. However, given the current real estate market, a single home in a desirable part of New Jersey can easily be valued at over one million dollars. Typically, high-asset divorces involve couples who own multimillion-dollar properties as well as businesses, stocks, retirement accounts, valuable artwork, and fine jewelry. The high value of the marital assets can make the divorce process extremely complex, and often requires a thorough evaluation of all marital property.

What Are the Challenges of a High-Asset Divorce?

Ending a marriage can be a complicated and time-consuming process, even under the best of circumstances. However, the process can be much more complex when there are significant assets that must be divided. Couples who have a high net worth must still resolve many of the typical issues that come up during a divorce including alimony, child support and custody arrangements. However, in a high-asset divorce, there is often a significant amount of wealth that has accumulated over the course of the marriage that must be divided between the two spouses. This can lead to disputes over the division of property and what is considered a fair distribution of the property. If you are going through a divorce where there is a significant amount of wealth that must be divided, an experienced high-asset divorce lawyer will protect your financial interests and ensure that the marital property is distributed equitably and fairly.

How Are High Asset Divorces Different From Other Divorces?

The divorce process has the potential to be much more complicated when a couple’s net worth is extremely high. For example, the process of identifying, valuing, and assuring equitable distribution in a high-asset divorce is much more complicated compared to a typical divorce. In fact, the higher the couple’s net worth, the more complicated the divorce is likely to be. The following are some of the main differences of a high-asset divorce from a typical divorce:

  • More Expensive. High-asset divorces are rarely resolved by mediation, so both spouses will need to hire a high-asset divorce lawyer who has experience with high net worth divorces. In addition, it is highly likely that both parties’ lawyers will need to hire skilled professionals who can appraise the marital property, provide financial and tax planning recommendations, and determine the total value of any business holdings and retirement accounts.
  • More time-consuming. There is a significant amount of marital property that must be evaluated in a high asset divorce. In some cases, financial consultants and tax planning specialists may be needed to provide additional expertise. As a result, high-asset divorces often take much longer to resolve.
  • More frustrating for couples. Even couples who have an amicable divorce may experience moments of frustration. However, high-asset divorces can be particularly frustrating for a number of reasons, including the high cost of the divorce, how time-consuming it can be, and the challenges of reaching a favorable agreement.
  • High-asset divorces often attract more publicity. This is particularly common if one or both of the spouses are celebrities, or well-known in their communities. A high-asset divorce can attract unwanted attention during a very difficult and stressful divorce.

How Are Marital Assets Divided in a High-Asset Divorce?

Marital assets are the properties that the couple acquires after they are married. Any asset that is considered marital property will be subject to equitable distribution during the divorce process. Separate property includes any property that a spouse acquired before getting married. This may include real estate, inheritances or other financial gifts. In most cases, separate property is exempt from the equitable distribution process. However, there are certain circumstances where separate properties may be considered marital property during the equitable distribution process. For example, if you purchased your home before you and your spouse got married, but your spouse stayed at home to raise the kids and manage the home, it is possible that the home will become marital property and subject to equitable distribution. In New Jersey, marital assets are divided fairly and reasonably between the two spouses. A judge will determine what property should be considered marital property and what is considered separate.

What Common Mistakes Do People Make in High-Asset Divorces?

While the parties involved in a high-asset divorce often own multimillion-dollar properties as well as a range of other assets that amount to significant wealth, this also means that they have more to lose in a divorce settlement. The following are examples of high-asset divorce mistakes that people make, which can end up costing them even more money. A skilled high-asset divorce lawyer will guide you through the complex divorce process and prevent you from making these costly mistakes.

  • Failing to understand the property division laws. Oftentimes, individuals do not have a thorough understanding of what is considered marital property versus separate property. As a result, they may be more likely to accept a settlement offer that is less than fair.
  • Attempting to hide assets. There are a number of ways that people can hide their assets from a spouse during a divorce, some of which are questionable from a legal standpoint. People will go to great lengths to hide their money in an effort to avoid sharing it with their spouse during a divorce. However, these efforts are often discovered during the divorce process, and will ruin any credibility you may have had with the judge. In addition, if it is discovered that you attempted to hide assets from your spouse, you could lose 100 percent of the asset you were trying to hide.
  • Accepting unfavorable terms in order to be done with the divorce. While it may be tempting to accept the terms of a divorce so that you can be done with the process as quickly as possible, this can actually be a very costly mistake. Once a divorce has been finalized, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to revise the terms at a later date. Therefore, it is in your best interest to work with a high-asset divorce lawyer so that you can reach the best possible settlement agreement, even if the process takes longer than you would like.
  • Failing to hire an experienced high-asset divorce lawyer. A high-asset divorce requires a highly-skilled lawyer who has a thorough understanding of family law in addition to understanding the complex financial issues that must be resolved when a significant amount of money, property, and other financial holdings must be divided. There are plenty of high-asset lawyers, but it is in your best interest to do your research and hire an attorney who has a track record of reaching successful settlements in high-asset divorces, and will aggressively fight to secure the settlement you deserve. 

What Can I Do to Resolve a High-Asset Divorce as Smoothly as Possible?

Despite the challenges associated with high-asset divorces, there are steps you can take to ensure that the divorce is resolved as smoothly as possible, and with the best possible outcome:

  • Make a list of all marital property. Make copies of all items that may indicate value, including assets that were obtained as a gift, by inheritance, or other items that are considered separate property.
  • Do not hide any assets. This will damage your credibility with the court, which can have significant financial implications, particularly if a forensic accountant is hired to identify any undisclosed property.
  • Be open to creative settlement offers. It is highly recommended that you consult with a financial/tax advisor so that you understand the long-term implications of maintaining certain properties. He or she can brainstorm a range of options that will reduce your liability while ensuring that the marital property is distributed fairly.
  • Be realistic. If you have a general understanding of the property distribution scheme that New Jersey follows, you will have a more realistic expectation of your divorce settlement.
  • Be patient. Do not rush into a settlement, or make an important decision when your emotions are running high. Accept the fact that the divorce process can take time, but that you will reach a much more favorable settlement outcome by being patient and working with your skilled legal team to develop the best possible legal strategy.

Woodbridge High Asset Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Handle High Net Worth Divorces

If you and your spouse are pursuing a divorce, and you have accumulated a substantial amount of marital assets, you are urged to contact the Woodbridge high-asset divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. at your earliest convenience. We have a proven track record of reaching favorable settlement outcomes in high-asset divorces. Our experienced and dedicated legal team will walk you through every step of the divorce process, and ensure that your marital property is divided fairly and equitably. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Somerville, New Jersey and Morristown, New Jersey, where we service clients throughout the state, including, but not limited to, those residing in Bedminster, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, Bridgewater, Woodbridge, Basking Ridge, Menham, Morristown, South Plainfield, Somerset, across Somerset County, Morris County, Union County and throughout New Jersey.