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How are high net worth divorce cases different?

December 5, 2017

How are high net worth divorce cases different?

High net worth divorce cases pose some unique challenges. With so much on the line, it’s common for the divorce process to be more complicated and challenging. All aspects of a divorce from custody to division of assets may be more involved and difficult when there are a large amount of assets in the case.

Finding hidden assets

The first question for dividing assets in high net worth cases is identifying the assets and determining whether they are marital. In high net worth cases, the parties often have a lot to gain by hiding assets. They might try to change the title of an asset in order to keep it from the reach of divorce court. They may try to downplay the value of a closely-held business. They might even give items of personal property away in the months leading up to the divorce.

Your divorce attorney can work to track these assets down. They can issue subpoenas and prepare interrogatory requests in order to identify and document the assets. If a party gets caught trying to hide money or property from the court, the consequences are often steep.

Child support

The traditional rules for child support don’t apply in high income cases. The court may continue to apply the standard percentages of a parent’s income in order to determine a child support amount. However, the court is also free to look at the high income of the parents and choose to set a different amount for a support award. The theory is that at some point, a child’s needs are met. While a child has a right to enjoy their share of a parent’s success, they don’t have a right to a flat percentage of a parent’s income that goes beyond their reasonable needs.

In high income cases, it’s up to the parents to make arguments to the court about why a certain child support amount is the most appropriate. You might do this by working with your attorney to present and gather evidence of the children’s expenses. This might include special needs expenses, reasonable extracurricular costs and even costs for private school attendance. The court can consider the lifestyle of the parents when it makes its decision.

Division of the assets and alimony

When the court divides property in a divorce, it’s their job to do what’s equitable. In high net worth cases, a party may need alimony. They may need time to reenter the workforce, or they may not be able to return to work at all. In that case, it’s important to work with your attorney in order to build the case for alimony. Alimony can be temporary while the divorce is pending, it might continue for a short time after the divorce, and in some cases, alimony is permanent.

The court needs to have the right evidence before it in order to make the right decisions in a high net worth divorce case. It’s up to each party to present this evidence. That means carefully taking the time to methodically prepare the case.

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