No two divorce cases are alike. The issues and complications you may encounter are unique to you. For example, if you and your spouse have a high-asset divorce with valuable earnings or property you have acquired over the years, this is something you will have to factor into your negotiations.
It is critical to protect your rights by hiring a Palo Alto high-asset divorce lawyer. Schoenberg Family Law Group has handled many high-asset and high-profile divorce cases and can improve your chances of achieving a positive case outcome. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our local family law attorneys.
Why Choose Us
- Debra R. Schoenberg is a Certified Family Law Specialist. This means she has obtained additional training, education and experience specifically in the area of family law.
- We understand the emotional toll that a divorce takes on an individual. We will always treat you with the utmost respect, compassion and honesty as our client.
- Our law firm in Palo Alto has the resources and personnel to successfully handle any divorce case, no matter how complicated.
What Is a High-Asset Divorce?
A high-asset divorce means the couple requesting a dissolution of marriage has accumulated a large amount of assets over the years. The couple might have obtained these assets together during their marriage, or one or both parties may have brought them into the marriage. Assets can refer to income, savings, stocks and bonds, properties, businesses, collectibles, electronics, jewelry, and family heirlooms. It can also refer to intangible assets, such as intellectual property.
What Are Unique Issues You May Encounter With a High-Asset Divorce?
Having a high-asset marriage means you and your spouse will have to deal with complex financial matters during a divorce. You may need to divide ownership of a shared family business, for example, or liquidate certain assets to divide your property. There may also be significant tax consequences for how you distribute your assets after a divorce. Another common challenge is a spouse attempting to hide assets.
The unique issues connected to a high asset divorce make it even more important to trust an attorney with your case. Property division is already a complicated area of family law. When a couple has to deal with a large amount of assets or high-value assets, the transfer of property ownership, liquidating investments, and other issues, it can be even more difficult to work through the case without legal assistance.
How Does California Divide Assets?
California is a community property state, meaning that it divides property and assets down the middle, 50/50, in a divorce case. The courts view a married couple as their own community, where both people share equal ownership of all of the assets and property acquired during the marriage. When a divorce case goes to trial, the courts will divide all community property down the middle, regardless of whether one spouse contributed more than the other.
The courts only have the power to divide community property, however, not separate property. Community property is any asset accumulated after the date of the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, is property a spouse had before the marriage. Separate property can also refer to any gifts or inheritance given solely to one spouse and not the other. In a high-asset divorce case, the courts will allow each spouse to keep his or her separate property but force the couple to divide all community property in half.
Why Should You Hire an Attorney?
You may have a lot on the line during a high-asset divorce case. Dividing your family home, business and other valuable assets can be tricky even under the best circumstances. If you and your spouse cannot communicate or compromise, it can be even harder to handle property division. You may need to hire professional property assessors to determine the monetary value of each asset before coming to a settlement agreement. An attorney will have the resources and connections to experts that you need for a successful divorce case.
Your lawyer will protect your rights and best interests through every phase of your divorce or legal separation, negotiating with your ex-spouse and his or her attorney on your behalf to protect your financial interests. Your lawyer can navigate issues such as tax ramifications, the liquidation of your assets, complex retirement savings and more while you focus on your family and future. Rather than taking on the legal burden of a high-asset divorce case on your own, you can trust a trained and experienced legal professional to properly handle things for you.
Does a High-Asset Divorce Have to Go to Court?
Not every divorce case has to go to court. Even a complicated divorce involving high-value assets can achieve a settlement outside of court. In every divorce case in California, the couple first has the chance to come to a settlement agreement before handing the matter over to a judge. A settlement means the couple creates a property division plan together, along with deciding issues such as child custody and alimony. Hiring a Palo Alto divorce lawyer to represent you increase the chances of achieving a settlement.
An attorney can help facilitate conflict resolution through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration while protecting your rights. It is especially important to hire an attorney if your ex-spouse has already hired one. Working with a lawyer increases the odds of staying in control of the division of your high-value assets and achieving a private settlement. If your divorce case does have to go to trial, however, your attorney can represent your best interests before a judge.
How Long Does a High Net Worth Divorce Take?
It is normal to want your divorce case to be over as soon as possible. Like many states, however, California has a waiting requirement. There is a mandatory waiting period of six months to get divorced before the courts will finalize the paperwork. This waiting period allows you and your spouse to work out a settlement agreement rather than having to go to trial. Many high-asset divorce cases take longer than six months, however, due to greater complications than the average divorce case.
If there are complicated financial matters to be resolved, your family will need to take its time to work through these matters, often with assistance from accountants and other professionals. If you and your spouse can achieve an uncontested divorce case and settlement, your divorce may take several months from start to finish. If, however, you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, a divorce trial in California can take a year or longer. Working with a divorce attorney in Palo Alto can help you achieve the most efficient divorce process possible.
Guide to Divorce for High Net Worth Couples
Although every divorce is unique, there are certain tips that are universal among high-asset divorce cases. These are especially complicated cases in California that require additional planning and attention to detail. Use this general guide to divorce as a high net worth couple to learn more about what to expect from the legal process. In general, there are four main stages of a high-asset divorce:
- Planning. Planning is critical. With a financially complex case, the importance of planning cannot be underestimated. You and your spouse will need to carefully plan your custody decisions, parenting plan, property division and alimony. Successful planning between two reasonable parties can help you avoid a contested or high-conflict divorce, which can take longer and cost more money than an uncontested divorce.
- Accounting. A successful high net worth divorce case requires input from forensic accountants and other finance professionals. You may need assistance from an estate planning expert, real estate professional, tax professional, corporate lawyer, family law firm and other subject-matter experts to accurately evaluate your assets and divide them in a fair and equitable manner.
- Negotiation. The third step is settlement negotiations with your spouse. You and your partner will need to exchange declarations of disclosure, which are comprehensive lists of all of your marital assets and debts. Then, you will go back and forth with settlement offers until – ideally – you can agree on an arrangement that works for both of you. If you can negotiate a settlement, a judge in Palo Alto will most likely sign off on the agreement.
- Litigation. If your high-asset divorce case cannot achieve a settlement, intelligent litigation will be the fourth and final step. Your divorce attorney can help you state your case before a judge in a family law court and fight for the outcome that you desire, including the parenting plan that you want and your desired property division arrangement. Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you can help you go up against your spouse’s attorney at court.
There are a few other tips that can help you achieve a smoother divorce process. Stay off of social media as much as possible during your divorce case. Things that you post and publish on social media sites could be used as evidence against you in your divorce. Always consider mediation or collaborative divorce to keep things as peaceful as possible and to stay in charge of the outcome of your case. Most importantly, choose to protect your rights and interests by hiring an attorney to represent you from the very beginning of your divorce. As soon as you decide to end your relationship, consult with a lawyer in Palo Alto for sound legal advice.
Contact Our Palo Alto High-Asset Divorce Lawyers Today
If you have what is classified as a high-asset divorce case, do not risk all of your hard-earned property by handling settlement negotiations alone. Protect yourself by hiring a Palo Alto high-asset divorce lawyer. Your attorney can handle important tasks on your behalf, such as representing you during mediation and taking care of complicated asset division issues.