Category: High asset Divorce

Divorce and the Protection of Premarital Assets

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Divorce and the Protection of Premarital Assets

In New Jersey, upon divorce, most assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution. That is to say the court will distribute the marital assets in a manner that is fair to both parties. Marital assets in NJ are assets that have been legally and beneficially acquired by them or either of them during the marriage, however there are some exceptions.

Is Your Child’s Inheritance a Premarital Asset?

Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(h), premarital assets are not subject to equitable distribution. The general rule for a premarital asset is that an asset acquired prior to the marriage by one spouse remains his or hers upon dissolution of the marriage, as long as that asset has not been commingled with other marital assets. That is to say the asset has not been put into joint names, a joint account, or used to purchase a marital asset such as a house. The premarital asset must remain separate and apart from the marital assets throughout the marriage.

An effective method of protecting premarital assets is a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement will outline the separation of property and will discern what is actually martial property versus premarital property. It is essentially an agreement wherein you and your spouse decide what assets are premarital and what assets you each want to keep in the event of a divorce.

Issues arise when couples do not have the foresight to draft and sign a prenuptial agreement. In order to protect premarital assets, it is important to keep that asset separate, even in regard to the other spouse’s access to the account. For example, a premarital investment account may earn interest during the marriage. Is the interest then a marital asset? It depends. Did the spouse do anything to help with the investments, such as give advice or move the money with the consent of the other spouse? Did the spouse have direct access to the account? If the answers to these questions is yes, then these assets may not remain premarital.

Another issue that often arises is whose name is on the asset. One of the most common examples of this issue is real estate. For example, say you decide to buy a townhouse years before you are married and only your name is on the deed. The Court will then ask if the home was bought in contemplation of marriage. If the home was bought with the intention of you and your spouse living in the home as a married couple, then the asset may be marital. If it was bought before the two of you even met, it may be premarital. Upon marriage did the two of you live in the home together? If the answer is yes, then the court applies the factors listed under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(h), the New Jersey equitable distribution statute.

In New Jersey, equitable does not mean equal. In a case where only one spouse bought the home, but both spouses lived in it together, the Court may decide that a 70/30 split may be equitable. The Court may also decide a 60/40 split may be equitable. It will depend on the circumstances of the case, the amount of time and money each spouse put into the upkeep of the home and how much money each spouse put into the down payment. Remember, while the two of you were married, the spouse who is not on the deed contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of the home whether it may be in payment of mortgage or cutting the lawn each week. In situations such as this the Court attempts to preserve the premarital portion of the home by giving one spouse a larger percentage in terms of equitable distribution.

Another issue that often arises is inheritance. Generally speaking, inheritance is considered a premarital asset as long as it is kept separate from other marital assets. As soon as money from an inheritance is used to buy a marital asset such as a boat or shore home, then the premarital asset is converted into a marital asset. Any inheritance should be maintained as a separate asset, maintaining inherited funds in separate accounts and or maintaining inherited property separate and apart from marital property. It is also important to note that gifts and trust funds should be treated the same as an inheritance and be kept separate from marital property in case of a divorce.

Protect Your Premarital Assets With Lyons & Associates

If you or someone you know is concerned about the protection of your premarital assets, please contact the Law Offices of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our skilled team of attorneys are here to help you. For a free consultation, please email us, visit our website, or call us at (908) 575-9777.

How to Prepare for High Asset Divorce in NJ

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How to Prepare for High Asset Divorce in NJ

Divorce can be a daunting process to begin with. A high asset divorce in NJ, however, can be even more complicated.
Remember, it took a lot of time and energy to get where you are today so, if you decide to divorce your spouse, you’d like to come out of it in the best financial situation possible. The first step in unraveling your married life, is to hire the right attorney. It is important to hire someone knowledgeable and trustworthy. At Lyons & Associates, PC we use our expertise in high asset divorce to look out for your best interests.

Navigating the Process of High Asset Divorce in NJ

Evaluate All Assets

The first step in any high net worth divorce is to evaluate the assets. While this may cost some money, in the end it will be worth it. An accurate evaluation of the business, the retirement accounts, the real estate and any other assets you have will enable you and your attorney to negotiate a reasonable settlement. Remember, knowledge is power!

Partner With a High Asset Divorce Attorney

Once the assets have been evaluated, it’s time to get to work. Most high asset divorce cases settle. That’s why it’s important to have an attorney that is a good negotiator who has drafted many complicated settlement agreements. For example, if you have stock options, they don’t vest as soon as they are received. Stock options vest over time and the final agreement must account for the stocks received even after the Judgment of Divorce has been finalized.

Be aware of the applicable law. New Jersey has various statutes that address alimony, equitable distribution and child support. High asset divorces have many nuances that do not apply in an average divorce. Therefore, it’s important to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable regarding applicable statutes and case law.

Consult a Financial Advisor or Tax Preparer

While a high asset divorce attorney may be knowledgeable regarding the law that affects your case, a tax preparer or financial advisor will guide you through any tax consequences that will affect your settlement. During the last few years tax laws have changed regarding divorce. Alimony, on a federal level, used to be tax deductible to the payor spouse and considered income to the payee spouse. That is no longer the case, however, at the state level this law has not changed. Tax issues such as these are best discussed with an accountant, so you are properly prepared when filing your taxes.

Consider Preservation of Premarital Assets, Inherited Assets, Or Trust Accounts

If you have inherited assets, premarital assets, or a trust account, it is best to have an attorney that will help you preserve those assets. Those assets may have generated income for the family in the past. It is important to consider whether the income from the assets should be part of equitable distribution or the asset should remain untouched.

How We Can Help

At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we believe in personal attention for personal matters. Our skilled team is here to help you through a high asset divorce in NJ. For a free consultation, contact us online, or call us at (908) 575-9777.

Actor Liam Hemsworth Files for Divorce from Miley Cyrus

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Actor Liam Hemsworth Files for Divorce from Miley Cyrus

Actor Liam Hemsworth Files for Divorce from Miley CyrusActor Liam Hemsworth filed for divorce from entertainer Miley Cyrus after only eight months of marriage due to irreconcilable differences. The celebrity couple married in December 2018 and were a couple for 10 years on and off before that. Before the marriage occurred, both parties signed a prenuptial agreement. They shared about fifteen pets, which Cyrus originally adopted as a single woman, and a recently agreed upon custody arrangement grants Cyrus custody of their pets.

Signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage ensures that both parties understand the financial aspects of a potential split and possible custody arrangements in the future. Oftentimes, a prenuptial agreement establishes what the proposed division of property will be ahead of a divorce and may determine the parameters of spousal support. Additionally, it may outline pet custody arrangements beforehand, so that both parties are protected in the event of a divorce.

If you plan to get married in the near future, it is wise to protect your assets by establishing a prenuptial agreement. Our New Jersey divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. will advise you on the process of creating this type of agreement. To schedule a consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. We proudly serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey from our offices in Somerville, New Jersey.

Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) Divorce Viewed Under the Lens of New Jersey Law

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Somverville divorce law firm assist clients with high asset divorces.Written by: Marissa Del Mauro, Esq.

Recent news outlets have reported that, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos have decided to file for divorce after 25 years of marriage. It has been reported that the divorce will be filed in Washington State, which is a community property state. This leaves the Bezos’ estate, worth an estimated $137 billion at issue. The following is an analysis of the Bezos divorce as if it were filed here in the state of New Jersey, an equitable distribution state.

Community Property State vs. Equitable Distribution State

In a community property state, the spouses are deemed to equally own all income and assets earned or acquired during the marriage. This includes any and all property that was acquired during the marriage with “community” money is deemed to be owned equally by both parties, regardless of who purchased it. This equal ownership also applies to debts incurred during the marriage, regardless of which spouse incurred the debt.

By contrast, in an equitable distribution state such as New Jersey, any and all property acquired and any and all debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage is subject to distribution between them, but not necessarily at an equal 50-50 split. In New Jersey, it is important to remember that “equitable” does not mean equal.

How the Court Determines How the Property will be Distributed

In New Jersey, the Court will undergo a three-step process to determine how property will be distributed between the spouses:

  1. Determine what property is subject to equitable distribution;
  2. Value the property; and
  3. Decide how that property will be divided.

Factors That Courts Use to Determine Equitable Distribution

Once the Court has determined what property is subject to equitable distribution and has valued the property, the Court will undergo an analyses under the New Jersey Equitable Distribution statute as to each piece of property to determine how it will be divided. Equitable distribution in New Jersey is codified under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(h) and is set forth below:

  1. The duration of the marriage;
  2. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
  3. The income or property brought to the marriage by each party;
  4. The standard of living during the marriage;
  5. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property division;
  6. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
  7. The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;
  8. The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
  9. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
  10. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
  11. The present value of the property;
  12. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects;
  13. The debts and liabilities of the parties;
  14. The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children;
  15. The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and
  16. Any other factor which the court may deem relevant.

Having an experienced matrimonial attorney to carefully identify, analyze and advocate for equitable distribution of marital assets is integral to ensuring you have the financial security you seek and need.

Somerville Divorce Law Firm at Lyons & Associates Assist Clients With High Asset Divorces

For more information regarding high asset divorces and equitable distribution contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail, view our website at, or call our office at 908-575-9777.

Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements

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Somerville divorce lawyers create binding prenuptial agreements. Prenuptial agreements require couples to establish guidelines for dividing up their assets, such as homes, cars, and fine jewelry. However, the reality is that prenuptial agreements are practical and beneficial tools for every couple, regardless of wealth or assets. Prenups are about much more than who gets the vacation house in the event of a divorce. They also address issues of debt, alimony, and household expenses. Moreover, prenuptial agreements are tools for healthy communication concerning money early on and preventing misunderstandings that can sabotage a healthy marriage.

Encompassing Prenuptial Agreements

Couples of average income and assets might assume that a prenuptial agreement is not relevant to their lifestyle, yet contemporary pre-nuptial agreements are about much more than the division of assets. They serve as a game plan for how a marriage will function financially.

Most young couples enter into marriage with debt, either from credit cards or college tuition. Establishing who will assume debt is the first step in laying the financial framework of the household. For example, if one spouse is going to assume the responsibility of paying off college loans, the other may assume most household living expenses. Prenuptial agreements can also include details about a couple’s lifestyle, such as what religion the children will observe in the event of divorce how the couple will pay for college for the children.

Prenuptial Agreements as a Tool for a Healthy Marriage

Prenuptial agreements are an agreement between spouses about how the family will manage debt, income, expenses, and assets. A study of 4,500 couples published in The Family Relations Journal discovered that money problems are the biggest predictor of divorce, regardless of how much a couple earns. Financial disputes are more likely to lead to separation as various couples often hold different beliefs about money management.

Arguments about money are often the most contentious part of a divorce. In preparing a prenuptial agreement, couples force the conversation about money before marriage, resolving any potential issues before the wedding. Prenuptial agreements can help foster open and honest communication that is essential for the health of every marriage.

Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Create Binding Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are not just beneficial in high asset divorces, they are invaluable tools for every couple preparing for marriage. Additionally, postnuptial agreements are an option for couples who have already tied the knot. Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are committed to protecting our clients’ interests with fair and practical prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Should couples experience drastic changes in income or assets, we are also available to amend existing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements at any time.

Schedule a consultation with a us by calling 908-575-9777 or completing our convenient online contact form. We represents clients throughout the state of New Jersey including in Somerset County, Morris County, Union County, and the towns of Woodbridge, Somerset, South Plainfield, Morristown, Mendham, Basking Ridge, and Bridgewater.

Mistakes to Avoid in a High Asset Divorce

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Somerville Divorce Lawyers offer advice on mistakes to avoid in a high asset divorce.Every divorce has its challenges. Whether emotional, physical, or financial, divorce can be a difficult transition. When the economic stakes are high, divorce can be even more complicated. There are a few ways to protect your interests and your sanity while keeping your high asset divorce as painless as possible.

Be patient

You might want to be divorced yesterday, but slow down before you agree to any terms because you are in a hurry to be rid of your spouse. Maybe your divorce is a long time coming, or maybe you are ready to move on with a new significant other. As tempting as it may be to agree to your ex’s terms right off the bat, your divorce lawyer needs sufficient time to conduct a thorough analysis and negotiate alimony, division of assets, and other terms in your best interest. Signing an agreement too soon can have negative financial consequences for years to come.

Do not be fueled by anger

Many spouses want their soon-to-be ex to pay at any cost, but the money you are spending to make your soon-to-be ex pay is yours as well. Anger and revenge can easily cloud your decisions, which can be dangerous in high asset divorces. Take time to focus on your emotional and physical well-being, while your legal team works to make sound financial and legal decisions for you and your future.

Maintain credibility

Trying to outsmart your spouse and their lawyer by hiding and/or transferring assets or property will only hurt your credibility with the Court. Moreover, fraudulent behavior on your part could jeopardize your position throughout the divorce process. At Lyons & Associates, we will ensure you provide all of the necessary financial documents required by law while remaining protected and your credibility intact.

Investigate everything

Especially in high asset divorces, financials can be complex. If one spouse was primarily responsible for managing the money throughout the marriage, the other may be in the dark about where the money is. A competent divorce lawyer will investigate every avenue to find every asset and source of income a partner may be trying to hide.

 Consult the right lawyer

Your biggest asset in a high-stakes divorce is your legal counsel. Negotiating a high asset divorce is a daunting process, especially when you are also dealing with the stress and sadness that comes with the end of a marriage. Our legal team will offer an educated and experienced perspective that is not clouded by emotion. Find a lawyer that takes the time to not only listen to you, but also takes the time to explain every step of the process with you. With the guidance of a skilled divorce lawyer, you can begin this new phase of your life with financial security.

Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Negotiate High Asset Divorces

High asset divorces call for exceptional divorce lawyers. Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. leave no stone unturned when investigating property, income, and other assets. Schedule a free consultation by calling 908-575-9777 or contact us online.

 We serve residents throughout New Jersey including Somerset County, Morris County, and Union County, and the towns of Bridgewater, Basking Ridge, Mendham, Morristown, Somerville, South Plainfield, Somerset, and Woodbridge.