Marlton High Asset Divorce Lawyers
The emotional ordeal you go through during a divorce can be devastating and may feel like it goes on longer than it should. That might be the case when you are dealing with a high asset divorce, as when you are dealing with more assets and money, it becomes harder to divide those assets up equally between the ex-spouses.
If you have amassed significant assets and your spouse decides they want to end your relationship, it can be frightening to think that you may be forced to give up a significant amount of assets you worked hard to build up. Or you could have worked hard with your spouse to create a comfortable lifestyle and you do not want to see it taken away from you.
If you are going through a divorce and need to determine how to properly distribute your assets, you need an experienced high asset divorce lawyer who will fight for you to help you keep the assets that are rightfully yours.
What Is a High Asset Divorce?
A high asset divorce occurs when a person who has a traditionally high-paying job such as a doctor, lawyer, or entertainer or one who have accumulated substantial assets decides to divorce. Given the exorbitant amount of assets involved, there are special circumstances given to those divorces.
One of the hallmarks of a high asset divorce is the involvement of complex assets. These assets are not part of a routine divorce and can tie up negotiations for months and even years. These complex assets include:
- Real estate: This includes the marital home, rental property, and vacation homes.
- Businesses: This is for closely held businesses and family businesses.
- Retirement accounts: Pensions such as IRAs and 401(k)s would be in this group.
- Investments: Any stocks and bonds the couple holds.
- Intellectual property: This would include copyrights and trademarks in the couple or each spouse’s name.
- High value vehicles: There are those that maintain luxury cars, super cars, and collector cars.
- High value personal items: These are personal items such as fine art, antiques, and special collections.
Although these assets can make a divorce more complicated, there are instances in which one spouse could be hiding financial information from the other. This can include debts that they have accumulated over time or even hiding assets in offshore accounts to keep them away from the other spouse.
The more forthcoming a couple is about their true financial situation, the easier a divorce proceeding can progress toward a civil conclusion.
What Assets Are Distributed in a Divorce?
Regardless of the amount of assets involved in a divorce, New Jersey follows the equitable distribution model. The name is misleading, as many might assume that all marital assets will be divided 50/50 between the ex-spouses. That is not accurate.
Under the equitable distribution model, a judge will disperse these assets in a manner that is fair, but not necessarily equal. The assets that are susceptible for distribution are all marital assets, unless a person can prove that a particular asset was acquired prior to the marriage. The only other exception is if an asset was a gift or an inheritance specifically bestowed to one individual.
Those businesses that one spouse owned prior to the marriage is excluded. However, if there was any increase in the value of the business, that increase could be subject to the equitable distribution of assets. The increase in value is calculated from the date of the marriage through the date divorce papers were filed.
If the divorce gets to court, a judge will follow three steps in distributing the assets. Those steps are:
- Determine which assets are subject to equitable distribution.
- Determine the value of the marital property subject to equitable distribution.
- Determine the most equitable way to distribute those assets.
The process can be long and complicated, given the high value of the assets and the complexity of the assets involved. Consulting with a divorce lawyer will help you in keeping what is rightfully yours.
Will My Prenuptial Agreement Help Protect My Assets?
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement a couple signs prior to getting married. It specifies the protection of assets for both sides so that they are protected from any distribution. It is also an opportunity for both future spouses to be upfront about their assets and liabilities at the outset of the marriage.
New Jersey recognizes prenuptial agreements, and they are enforceable. A person can challenge a prenuptial agreement in court if they suspect that their ex-spouse was not open and honest about their assets and liabilities at the time of signing the original document. A prenuptial agreement can be altered after the marriage to reflect the current financial situation of the family.
Prenuptial agreements are not all encompassing, as they cannot include the distribution of a Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan such as a 401(k). However, the couple can get around that if one signs an ERISA form that waives their right to future retirement benefits once the marriage occurs.
How Are Complex Assets Treated in a Divorce?
One of the unique aspects of a high asset divorce are the complex assets that are involved. Many of these assets require valuation to determine how much they are worth as well as how much they are subject to the equitable distribution of assets. In all cases, the ex-spouses will have to determine a plan to fairly distribute the values of all these items and execute their plans including whether they plan to sell them or keep them.
Real estate. When dealing with real estate including vacation homes, shared homes, or other property, there are many questions that surround it. The overall value of the property must be determined along with how much money was contributed by either side, and how much of the value of the property is subject to equitable distribution. Once the decision is made what to do with the property, you will have to produce a creative solution with your ex-spouse to execute that plan.
Business valuations. These are the factors that can delay a non-amicable divorce. The entire business must be valuated, and the role of both spouses must be determined. To do this, a forensic accountant will be called in, and they will look at all aspects of the business including its records, books, general ledgers, payroll registers, receivables, machinery, inventory, real estate, client lists, partnership interests, enterprise, and goodwill. As with real estate, the couple must decide if they wish to keep their shares of a business or sell it. They then must produce a plan that will allow that plan to take place after the divorce that satisfies both spouses and does not upset the company.
Stock options. You may have received stock options as part of your employment with your work. These are assets that are complicated to distribute, given the nature of how a person acquires them. To determine how much they are a part of the equitable distribution of assets, it will be determined how many options were granted, how many are vested already, and determining the vesting schedule. Once the true value is determined, the two sides must determine the best way to distribute those assets.
Marlton High Asset Divorce Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Will Help You Keep the Assets for Which You Are Entitled
After building up a business or fortune, you do not want to see your spouse file for divorce and attempt to take away that which you rightfully earned. You also do not want to see your ex-spouse take away all the money and leave you with nothing. The Marlton high asset divorce lawyers at Burnham Douglass are on your side and will help you fight for the divorce settlement that is equitable to you and your ex-spouse. Contact us online or call us at 856-751-5505 for a free consultation. We are located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.