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Specialty tag(s): High Net Worth Divorce, Divorce
High-Net-Worth Divorce Issues: Common Concerns When Allocating Assets
Rob Frazer | April 3, 2023
When you have a lot of assets to divide up in a divorce, unique concerns can arise, especially when the spouses’ contributions to those assets haven’t been equal. In this type of situation, commonly called a high-net-worth divorce, you’ll need a skilled attorney who has experience helping couples to separate their finances and work out an equitable plan that preserves as much wealth as possible. With high-quality representation, most high-net-worth divorce issues can be resolved in a way that satisfies both parties.
Alimony/Spousal Maintenance in High-Net-Worth Divorce
If both spouses in a high-net-worth divorce make substantial incomes, this may not be an issue, but if one spouse is financially dependent on the other, then the breadwinner may need to pay alimony to the dependent spouse. For example, the court may require that a stay-at-home parent receive support payments to give them time to find their own financial footing. Alimony can be temporary or continue for a set period of time. The court has discretion to set the amount and duration of payments based on relevant factors such as:
- Length of the marriage
- Marital conduct
- Physical, emotional, and mental conditions of the spouses
- Earning capacity
- Educational background
- Community and separate property involved
- Earned and unearned income of each spouse
- Standard of living
- Tax consequences
Owning a Business
For divorce cases that involve a business, it’s important to start with establishing whether or not the business is community property. If you cannot show convincing evidence that the business should be considered separate property, it will need to be divided in the divorce in some way, whether it’s a small family business or a multi-million-dollar company. Dividing a business can be complicated, and you will likely need to bring in a business evaluator and forensic accountant who can determine a precise value for the business. Then, you’ll need to come to an agreement about how to split this value in half. Some couples might agree to run the business as partners, with each owning half of the business. Others might decide that one spouse will buy out the other, leaving one spouse with full ownership of the business. But in some cases, the best solution may be to sell the business entirely and divide the proceeds.
Child Support and Custody
In a high-net-worth divorce, issues regarding child support can look quite different than they do in other divorces. For instance, the minimal reasonable needs for child support in these cases may include the cost of private school tuition, a nanny, expensive hobbies, trust funds, and college tuition. The custodial parent will need to prove in court what the child’s needs are and why more child support is necessary for satisfying those needs.
The Importance of Prenuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements are very common in cases where at least one spouse has significant assets of their own before the marriage. However, just because there is a prenuptial agreement in place doesn’t mean that it will be upheld. For instance, if you have commingled the assets defined in the prenup, they may now be considered community property under Texas law. One spouse may also argue that they signed the agreement under duress. Or the court may determine that the prenuptial agreement was unconscionable; if a prenup is determined to have been grossly unfair to one spouse, it may not be enforceable.
Property and Investment Division in High-Net-Worth Divorce Cases
According to Texas statutes, community property doesn’t have to be divided equally; the legal standard is that it must be divided in a manner that is “just and right.” It’s also not required that assets be liquidated in order to be divided. Complex assets like investment accounts and shares of stock may be awarded to one spouse, which can help to preserve their value.
At Goranson Bain Ausley, we have the experience to skillfully handle high-net-worth divorce issues and minimize unnecessary court costs to protect your wealth. Contact us for a consultation with one of our attorneys today.
An experienced family lawyer and partner, Rob’s goal is to help individuals protect what they have built over their lifetime and avoid the destruction of business or personal assets in divorce. Rob is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a Director of the Austin Bar Association. Named in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Family Law, 2019 – 2022, Rob has an extensive litigation history and a seasoned track record. A tireless advocate for his clients, Rob excels in the complexities of high asset property division.
For more information on how to protect your business in a divorce, please contact Rob Frazer at 512-842-4365.