Regardless of your opinions about divorce, the common consensus is that a divorce is expensive.  The cost of a divorce can be increased for a community estate which has high income earner(s), and/or significant assets.

At times in high asset cases, some or much of a spouse’s wealth was acquired before the marriage.  It is not uncommon for the disposition of these assets to be controlled by a premarital agreement, or pre-nup as it is commonly referred to.

However, in some cases, especially in long term marriages, the community fortune is just that, the community’s.  The division and disposition of these assets can be a complicated, confusing and arduous task.

Thoughts for any high asset case:

  1. Hire counsel

Litigants in most divorce cases can benefit from hiring their own attorney, but this is especially true in high asset cases.  High asset cases often bring more complicated family law issues.  For example, business entity holdings, stock options, multiple properties-domestic and abroad, significant retirement and other financial accounts.  A family law attorney can help you sort through these assets, and help you assess them for negotiation purposes.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to been in primary control of the finances.  This will not proscribe a non-earner spouse from the ability to hire counsel.  The law states that attorney’s fees may be paid with community property funds, or from marital property.  Under California Family Code Section 2030, the Court can award attorney’s fees when there is a disparity in income.  Thus, in cases where one spouse is the primary, or only, earner, he/she may be responsible for paying both parties’ attorney’s fees.

  1. Locate the Assets

Do you know where the bodies are buried?  Have you followed the belief that ignorance is bliss when it comes to your marital assets? Spouse’s income?  Consider the definition of an asset.  It is easy to remember the larger assets-bank accounts, homes, boats, cars, etc; however, many forget about artwork, guns, tools, jewelry, collectables, and other personal property.

Clients often find it beneficial to start a list.  Not only does this help you remember what you have, it will assist you when needing to prepare your required financial disclosures.

  1. That’s None of Your Business

It is understandable that many higher earners, and/or significant asset estates, and certainly those in the public eye, do not want their financial information, and family business in the public record for all to see.  The use of a private judge is a way to help privatize some of this exposure.  In addition, attorneys and litigants often request certain sensitive information be sealed within the Court file.

CNN has elaborated on some of the big mistakes one can make in cases like this, and Forbes has put together an article to help you get the most from a high asset divorce.  If you need assistance navigating your high asset divorce, or simply want to avoid some of the common mistakes clients make, Mendes Weed, LLP can assist you with your questions and concerns, as well as the process and procedures.

The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

Christina Weed  CBLS Tax Law

 

PHONE: 925.390.3222

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Mendes Weed, LLP offices are located in Walnut Creek and our skilled attorneys provide family, tax, business and trust law assistance for clients. For your convenience, we also have attorneys' offices in San Francisco and Sacramento by appointment only.

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