By Devin Partida
Special to Financial Independence Hub
Navigating a divorce can be stressful, especially if you have considerable financial assets. While legal separations can be nasty, they don’t have to be.
Discover what counts as a high-net-worth divorce, along with some tips to help you survive it with most of your financials intact.
What is a High-Net-Worth Divorce?
Traditionally, high-net-worth divorces are considered a split of US$1 million dollars between parties. Considering the increased property values and inflation in recent years, a high-net-worth divorce now involves several million dollars worth of financial assets. If you have assets amounting to this sum, you’re looking at a high-net-worth divorce in your hands.
What makes High-Net-Worth Divorces complicated?
Divorce in the U.S. is still prevalent, with estimates that 50% of first marriages will most likely end in divorce. That’s a lot of legal proceedings and assets to divide. Parties with fewer assets to divide often have more uncomplicated legal matters to resolve.
Divorce proceedings get more complex since you have millions of dollars worth of assets to take care of. Many factors come into play, like assets and liabilities acquired before and after the marriage, businesses owned by either or both spouses and investment or pension plans.
Tips on how to Safeguard your Interests during and after a High-Net-Worth Divorce
Wealthy couples typically have a lower divorce risk, but there may come a time when one or both parties decide to call it quits. Although high-net-worth divorces typically involve top-caliber lawyers and advisors, it’s still essential to research what to expect during legal proceedings. Doing so will help you prepare better for the process and safeguard your financials.
Get Expert Legal and Financial Advice
Divorce can be a physically, mentally and emotionally draining process. It’s also time-consuming if you have no idea how to proceed. Getting expert legal and financial advice can save you time and money, especially if you hire lawyers who have your interests in mind.
Hiring an expert mediator is one of the most underrated ways to ensure smooth divorce proceedings. Divorce mediation involves protecting both parties and safeguarding their interests from a neutral standpoint: each side gets what is rightfully theirs, no more and no less.
Know which Assets to Protect
Distinguishing between marital and separate assets is critical to protecting your financials in a divorce. You must ensure you know the value of your assets like properties, businesses, investments and so on. Catalog them depending on their classification so you know which assets to protect from division.
Here’s what you need to know about the difference between marital and separate assets.
- Marital assets: Any asset acquired during a marriage is considered a marital asset. You and your spouse will share the value of these possessions during the divorce.
- Separate assets: Any asset acquired before marriage is considered a separate asset. This includes any possessions or properties gifted to you by someone outside the marriage or through inheritance.
Marital assets are subject to division between both parties, while separate assets are not. However, several factors can affect how the court classifies your assets. Your legal team should give you a clear breakdown of which assets to include in an equitable distribution of properties.
Consider factors likes Taxes, Debts and Spousal Support
Being mindful of taxes, debts and spousal support can help preserve your wealth in a high-net-worth divorce. Any debt incurred by your spouse before the marriage is no longer your responsibility during the marriage and divorce. You can divide debt like credit card bills and loans during the marriage during the proceedings.
Selling your shared primary residence during divorce is not typically subject to tax if done promptly and correctly during the divorce. However, the IRS may subject other properties — such as stocks, cryptocurrency and other investment forms — to taxation. In addition to preserving wealth, you should consider legal obligations to support your spouse after divorce. However, you cannot save money by offering more in paying alimony since, like child support, it is not tax deductible.
Communicate instead of being Combative
Divorce proceedings become smoother if you stay professional and civil throughout the process. Being combative and argumentative can only heat things between you and your spouse. Hiring good lawyers instead of aggressive ones will pay dividends in the long run. Always consult your legal counsel before doing anything.
Keep communication lines open, but be mindful of the information you share. Staying amicable and maintaining good communication during the divorce will help both parties reach a fair conclusion quicker and save valuable resources.
Protecting yourself during a High-Net-Worth Divorce
Securing your financial assets during and after divorce requires considerable effort and valuable resources. Safeguard your interests by understanding the applications of the law and hiring the services of qualified and dedicated legal counsel
Devin Partida is the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, and a personal finance writer. Though she is interested in all kinds of topics, she has steadily increased her knowledge of the intersection of finance and technology. Devin’s work has been featured on Entrepreneur, Due and Nasdaq.