Texas High Net Worth Divorces
Experience Matters When the Stakes Are High
High-net-worth divorces typically involve special financial issues unique to that couple. Such issues could include undesirable tax triggers, transferability restrictions, vesting concerns, valuation problems, or separate property tracing. With more than 40 years of experience handling financially complex divorces, our Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury, and Plano, Texas-based high-net-worth divorce attorneys have the expertise required to successfully guide you through the process.
What is Considered a High Net Worth Divorce?
There is no universal definition of what constitutes a high-net-worth or high-asset divorce. As a result, the label is generally considered descriptive of a marital estate that contains some combination of any of the following marital property assets or characteristics:
- Significant cash or near liquid investments, including stocks, bonds, or mutual funds;
- Multiple retirement accounts, such as 401(k) 403(b), 457(b), IRAs, pensions, or federal or military retirement;
- Deferred compensation or bonus structures, including stock options, restricted stock units, performance shares, or other advanced profit-sharing plans;
- Significant separate property in existence prior to marriage, or received during the marriage through gift, inheritance, or as a result of a personal injury;
- One or more closely-held business ventures, S corporations, professional associations, PLLCs, or other entities; or
- Ownership interests in real estate beyond a marital residence, such as vacation homes, lake houses, income-producing real estate, or fractional interests in real estate holding companies or REITs.
Estates containing some or all of these types of assets may be considered “high asset” or “high net worth,” and their existence creates special issues for the divorcing couple. Not all family law attorneys possess the experience needed to help their clients navigate such issues successfully. If you’re contemplating divorce, be proactive by gathering documents associated with the assets listed above. Preparing accordingly will save you time and money by expediting the discovery process and giving your attorney the information they need to move on to the next steps.
How Do High Net Worth Divorces Differ from Traditional Divorces?
The special issues unique to high-net-worth divorces increase the complexity associated with successfully valuing and untangling assets. A systematic approach that correctly identifies these special issues as well as the solutions is essential to ensuring both a clean and equitable final property division.
For this reason, it’s important to hire an experienced high-asset divorce attorney, as they are well-versed in managing cases with significant assets and complex financial matters, including valuation and division of business interests, investments, unreported income, forensic accounting, and tax implications.
Can I Avoid Going to Court in a High Net Worth Divorce?
Yes, you can. Settling out of court through negotiation is a desirable option if privacy, efficiency, and control are high on your priority list.
You can minimize the emotional and financial costs of protracted litigation by choosing to handle your divorce outside of the courtroom using one of several non-adversarial methods, including mediation, negotiated divorce, or collaborative divorce.
By choosing one of these alternative methods of divorce, you will retain more control to create a customized resolution for your family’s specific needs, since no one can guarantee whether a judge’s ruling will be in your favor. In the event that you cannot settle your divorce out of court, our family law attorneys are highly skilled in court litigation and will zealously advocate for your best interests.
What Should I Do if I Think My Spouse is Hiding Money?
The first step is to work with your high-asset divorce attorney and a forensic accountant, who will get an understanding of your financial circumstances and guide you through the forensic accounting process. For more information, please listen to our podcast episode on the topic, “Is My Spouse Hiding Money?”
How Are Separate and Community Property Determined in a High Net Worth Divorce?
The simplest answer is for the parties to stipulate and agree upon what property is separate. That can be accomplished through a premarital agreement before getting married, a marital agreement entered into during the marriage, or even by stipulation during a divorce process.
If no such agreement exists, however, methods for distinguishing separate from community property at the end of the marriage will vary, depending upon the type of asset.
Physical assets, such as cars, antiques, or gifts are frequently established as separate property through direct testimony supported by titling documents, receipts, letters, photographs, or other supporting records.
Financial assets, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or even cash, generally must be forensically traced back through time to their point of origin using account statements and recognized tracing methodologies.
Work With Our Experienced Texas High-Net-Worth Divorce Lawyers
At Goranson Bain Ausley, our goal is to educate you on your options so you have more control over your future. Our experienced Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury, and Plano high-net-worth divorce attorneys have the skills you need to negotiate a resolution in your divorce that meets your needs. And if litigation can’t be avoided, our expertise in high-asset, high-net-worth divorce cases is well-known and respected throughout the state of Texas. Contact us today for a consultation to determine if we’re the right fit for your needs.