Divorce is never easy or without emotion. Compared to standard divorces, the intricacies of property and asset division, tax considerations, child support and potential alimony make high net worth divorces much more complex.
Atlanta divorce attorney Pete Chambers, who specializes in high net worth divorces, has a proven track record of ensuring that his client exits the marriage with the financial resources they need to start again.
Challenges of High Net Worth Divorces
Dividing assets is stressful for any couple, but high-asset divorces can escalate that stress to an entirely new level.
To Maddy’s utter dismay, her husband filed for divorce after 22 years of marriage. Their children were almost out of college and Maddy hadn’t worked outside the home since they were born. She’d devoted her time to caring for the children, volunteering in the community, and supporting her husband’s career.
Her biggest fear, aside from her children’s inheritance, was that she’d suddenly be left with nothing to live on despite their substantial assets. She feared her contributions to the marriage and childcare were of no value.
Maddy’s husband, David, proposed a small lump sum settlement based on his current salary. Prior to filing for divorce, David had removed his wife’s name as beneficiary to his retirement accounts and moved funds from their joint liquid asset accounts into new accounts.
For Chambers Family Law, the first job was to obtain a full accounting of the couple’s joint assets during the marriage. By engaging a team of forensic accountants, Pete Chambers was able to uncover the relocated funds, including the retirement accounts.
Once a full financial picture was in place, Chambers was able to help negotiate a settlement that provided Maddy with hundreds of thousands more than she anticipated.
Protecting Assets from Pillage
Extensive knowledge of Georgia divorce law is always important especially when considering division of assets.
In a separate case, Jonathan was approached for divorce after 35 years of marriage. Jonathan was a partner in a large investment firm. A large inheritance helped fund his initial buy-in to the partnership and his seven-figure salary, stock options and retirement accounts had helped him accrue considerable assets.
Although his heart was broken, Jonathan wanted to ensure his partnership was not in danger due to the divorce, provide fairly for his ex-wife and for his children’s future.
In this case, Pete Chambers’ expert legal advice and experience with the complexities of high net worth divorces was able to help protect Jonathan’s inheritance funds and partnership. Chambers encouraged the couple to consider mediation instead of litigation to come to a settlement that ultimately satisfied everyone’s concerns fairly.
Asset Valuation and Hidden Assets
Understanding the complexity of assets is vital to adequately prepare for a high net worth divorce. These can include:
- Real estate holdings, including primary residences, vacation homes, rental properties, REITs, and other investment properties
- Business interests, including ownership or partnership in companies and professional practices
- Investment portfolios, including stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities
- Retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions
- Personal property of significant value, such as jewelry, artwork, collectibles, and vehicles
- Inherited funds and property
High net worth divorces often require the expertise of financial professionals in addition to legal representation to find hidden assets. This may include forensic accountants, appraisers, and financial advisors who can help you and your attorney accurately value assets and fight for a fair division.
Selling assets to divide wealth during a divorce can result in substantial capital gains taxes. Couples may also find the division of retirement accounts can result in unforeseen tax implications, unless they are handled properly to avoid tax consequences, penalties, or interest. Your attorney should have a deep understanding of these potential tax implications so he or she can help protect your assets. Ultimately, advice regarding tax consequences and implications should come from a forensic accountant or CPA employed by your attorney to ensure you are accurately protected, since an attorney is not a CPA.
Child support for young children, which is determined by the court using state guidelines, will depend on having a full financial picture of the couple’s assets and considering income from all sources. The court will look to ensure your children’s basic needs of food, housing, clothing, and health care are provided for after the divorce.
In high net worth divorces, the court may also take into consideration private education, day care or nanny services, tutoring or special educational expenses, and lifestyle options like summer camps or extracurricular sports and activities.
Of note, when its clear parents are hiding income or earning potential to avoid their child support obligation, judges may calculate support based on what the parent could reasonably be earning, their income earning potential, or by an income average of the last few years of reported income.
Depending on the age of children involved in a high-asset divorce, you may need your attorney’s or financial advisors’ guidance to create a trust fund (or revise an existing one) based on division of assets
In high net worth divorces, spousal support can become a contentious issue quickly. The spouse with little or no income may seek substantial support, while the higher-earning spouse may not feel they are obligated to provide for an ex-spouse. Having a tough, but fair attorney who understands these challenges can make all the difference in your final settlement.
High net worth couples may no longer be able to maintain their former luxurious lifestyles after divorce. This can play a role in determining asset distribution, division of property, and determination of spousal support. To preserve their overall quality of life, couples may make choices to retain certain assets. Your attorney can help you understand the implications.
What to Look for When Hiring a Divorce Attorney
Finding a trusted Atlanta divorce attorney experienced in the challenges of high net worth divorces can be essential to protecting your assets. It is vital to work with a family law specialist who understands the sensitive and intricate nature high asset divorces present.
Privacy concerns for high-profile clients are often more pronounced in these divorces and you will want a trusted professional on your side to ensure confidentiality.
Your divorce attorney needs to be tough, highly experienced, compassionate, and well prepared to ensure all the complexities of your high net worth divorce are handled professionally.
What Should You Do Now?
Now is the time to protect your assets to ensure alimony, child support, parenting schedules, and child custody are addressed.
If your situation is also complicated by a high-net worth financial picture, your attorney needs to be skilled and prepared to protect you and your children’s future economic stability.
Chambers Family Law attorneys are experienced and equipped to successfully provide non-judgmental, compassionate, and invaluable assistance when high-value assets and business interests are involved in your divorce. Speak to a Chambers Family Law attorney right now at 404-795-5090.