Property division in a divorce can be a tense process even for couples who haven’t been married for long or acquired much during their marriage. For couples who have spent decades together and who have substantial assets and complex financial holdings, divorce may be infinitely more complicated.
There are certain important considerations that high-asset couples really need to review when setting goals for divorce or trying to negotiate a property division settlement.
Determining a value for unusual assets is critical
Those who only have limited assets may have a relatively quick process of dividing them. A bank account has a specific and easily verifiable value, as does the marital home where the couple resides. Other assets can have changing values that can be difficult to establish in divorce proceedings.
For example, an investment property might be worth substantially more than what you originally paid for it or the value that you currently pay taxes on. Investment accounts could have a lower value at
the time that you file for divorce but could easily rebound to much higher values just a few weeks after your divorce.
Deferred compensation, like stock options, could also have no value now but could represent thousands of dollars later.
Determining a fair value may require outside help
As previously noted, the price that you initially paid for an asset may not reflect its true value. Physical assets, such as antiques, fine art and jewelry, can represent a substantial portion of a household’s assets and marital estate. Homes, cabins and unimproved property may also be worth more on the market than they are on paper right now.
Working with professionals who can place a reasonable value on those physical assets will make it easier for you to ask for your fair share of the total marital or negotiate possession of specific assets based on their value.
Businesses often represent an opportunity to negotiate
Whether you or your spouse started, purchased or inherited a business, if you have invested in the company with marital assets, it’s possible that both spouses may have a claim to some of its value under the equitable distribution standard.
Determining what a business is worth and negotiating a way to divide its value without necessarily sharing ownership between spouses often represents a unique challenge for high-asset couples facing divorce. Careful documentation and getting the right advice from the earliest stages of divorce are critical to success when you have high overall assets or complex holdings.