Divorce is complicated, but for spouses with a high net worth, it can be even more difficult. So, what are common issues spouses encounter during a high net worth divorce? Keep reading to learn more!
What Is a High Net Worth Divorce?
A high net divorce is when one or both spouses own property with high monetary value. In some cases, property may be real estate or business while in other situations investment yields and inheritances make up the bulk of the owner’s net worth.
Typically, a divorce case can become extremely contentious during any stage, especially during child custody and visitation decisions. For high net-worth couples, property division is not only contentious but very time-consuming. Other matters like alimony and child support often have to wait until after property division has reached a resolution, which creates delays and complications down the line.
Understanding Division of Assets in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state meaning judges divide property amongst spouses equitably (fairly). Equitable division does not always result in an even 50/50 split because the judge’s duty is to ensure that the division of property is just and reasonable. If the judge sees fit, one spouse may get more than half of the marital property if the division would be fair.
In general, equitable division is based on several factors including:
- Employment capacity of each spouse
- Which parent will assume the primary parental role
- Fraud or criminal acts committed by one spouse against the other
- Conduct that increased or decreased the value of marital property
Personal conduct is not considered unless it directly affects the value of marital property. In other words, infidelity does not change the result of equitable division unless the spouse used marital assets to pay for vacations, gifts, and property for a third party.
The court will evaluate property value on fair market value and equity. This means that all property and holdings belonging to the spouses must be appraised to determine the exact value. Value can be estimated by looking at market value on websites like Zillow and Kelly Blue Book, but more complex valuations may require expert insight and investigations into international holdings.
Equitable Division for High Net Worth Divorces
In most cases, spouses with high net worth have property, investments, and holdings in many different sectors and even different countries. International property, foreign banks, and investments are difficult to evaluate and often require the expertise of a fiduciary or specialized accountant.
It’s also important to note that the more discreet or international property must be evaluated. Marital property includes everything – publically held or private. Hiding assets from the divorce court are ill-advised and is not a sound legal strategy. If you are concerned about losing assets in the divorce, consult with an attorney.
Unfortunately, one of the primary complications with high net worth divorces is time. Valuating vast amounts of assets and holdings take a lot of time and depending on the circumstances, one spouse may draw out the process to get more out of the settlement. Hidden assets also delay divorce proceedings which is why you must avoid hiding assets.
Another reason why these cases take longer is ownership. Property that belongs exclusively to one spouse may not always be subject to property division but the more property and assets you own, the more time it takes to validate ownership and value.
High net worth divorces are difficult because of the money one or both spouses has access to and these cases take a while to resolve which in turn increases the price of the divorce. Not only do specialized evaluators, forensic accountants, and fiduciaries need to consult, attorneys must be compensated for their time. This is why you must avoid hiding assets, contentious arguments, and other issues that could delay your case further.
The Best Approach to a High Net Worth Divorce
The best way to avoid the issues listed above is by consulting a qualified attorney. Not all law firms have experience with high net worth divorces and these cases involve many parties and have multiple extra steps. Only an experienced lawyer should oversee your divorce.
Nichols Dixon PLLC has handled countless high net worth divorces and we have helped our clients navigate the choppy waters of equitable distribution. We understand what is at stake in your case, and work tirelessly to protect your best interests.
If you are seeking a divorce, contact Nichols Dixon PLLC and put your case in our capable hands.