Regardless of your circumstances, divorce can be one of the most significant and emotional challenges you will face. But when you and your spouse have a high net worth, the divorce process can feel even more complex and overwhelming.
If you own a business, earn a high income, or have high-value assets, an attorney experienced in high asset divorce strategies can help you protect your wealth. The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill has more than 18 years of experience in successfully advocating for high-net-worth clients. We pride ourselves in helping clients navigate a difficult time by offering compassionate guidance, coupled with strong and effective advocacy.
What is a High Asset Divorce?
A “high asset divorce” may involve an estate with a large amount of liquid assets, or where other financial responsibilities or investments create extra complexity. For example, if one or both spouses own a business, or if the asset portfolio includes multiple properties, investments, overseas accounts, and more. Generally, the complexity of divorce proceedings increases with the complexity of a couple’s financial situation. There is no one definition of a “high asset divorce,” and many types of financial situations may benefit from the additional expertise of a high asset divorce lawyer.
Do not assume that your interests will be adequately protected with standard divorce representation – if you’re unsure as to whether the experience of a high asset divorce lawyer can benefit you, contact us today for a consultation.
How is High Net Worth Divorce Different?
When it comes to distributing assets during a divorce, New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that assets acquired during the marriage are to be distributed in a fair and reasonable manner. The process of identifying and valuing assets is a critical piece of any divorce distribution, but even more so with the amount and types of assets in a high net worth divorce. Ensuring the accurate identification and valuation of your shared assets can be the most important part of protecting your wealth.
Types of High-Value Marital Assets
Most divorces will have assets to be distributed, and in many cases the valuation of these assets will be relatively straightforward – for example, a joint savings account, or income as reported on a tax return. However, high net worth clients often hold many different types of assets that may be subject to equitable distribution, including:
Checking and savings accounts
Deferred compensation plans
Employee stock purchase plans
Retirement accounts (401ks, IRAs, etc.)
Unusual assets, such as jewelry, artwork, antiques, and other collectibles
Collectible cars, aircraft, marine craft, horses
Real estate (residential homes, vacation homes, commercial properties, investment properties)
Businesses owned by either spouse
Business interests in which one spouse is a partner (such as a medical practice or accounting firm)
Typically, wealth acquired before the marriage is not included – and yet if that property acquired additional value during the marriage, it may be subject to equitable distribution law. Consulting an experienced high net worth divorce attorney can help ensure that no assets are left out of the valuation and distribution process.
Identifying and Valuing Assets for Marital Distribution
In general, the following steps outline the process of equitable distribution for any New Jersey divorce. However, in a high net asset divorce, each step is typically complicated by the number and size of assets involved.
The assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage must be identified. High net worth divorces typically involve not only more assets but more complex types of assets that may be more difficult to identify.
The assets and liabilities must be valued. In some cases, valuation is straightforward and easily demonstrated – such as by bank statements and tax returns. The assets in high net worth cases may include assets that are more difficult to value and may require the help of outside professionals, such as a forensic accountant.
The percentage and method of distribution must be determined. Once assets have been identified and their value has been determined, equitable distribution does not necessarily result in an equal 50/50 split. Many other factors can be considered in determining the distribution of assets.
How Do Courts Divide Marital Property in a New Jersey Divorce?
New Jersey’s “equitable distribution” divorce law means that assets are not necessarily distributed equally, but fairly. This does not mean that the distribution is entirely subjective, but that the court will consider specific statutory factors, including but not limited to:
Duration of the marriage;
Age and health of the parties;
Standard of living established during the marriage;
Any prenuptial agreements;
Economic circumstances and earning capacity of the parties;
Contribution of each party to the education or earning power of the other;
Contribution of a party to asset acquisition, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
Future medical or educational costs for spouses or children;
The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals;
The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use household effects; and
The tax effects of the proposed distribution to each party.
In addition to these and other factors, courts are directed to consider any other relevant factors. An experienced high-asset divorce attorney understands the wide range of circumstances the court can consider and will use this to your advantage. At The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, we know that working to understand the entirety of your situation not only eases the burden on you, but in fact builds a more powerful case.
Protect Your Assets – Contact Our High Asset Divorce Attorneys Today
If you need help navigating a divorce, determining child custody, or dealing with a post-judgment matter, protect your family’s interests with an experienced Monmouth County family attorney. At The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, our compassionate family law attorneys have successfully guided countless clients through these and other challenging times in the life of your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Need Legal Advice With Your Divorce or Separation?
Need Legal Advice With Your Divorce or Separation?