While all divorces have many of the same characteristics, they are far from the same in terms of assets and property to be divided. Whereas a standard divorce may have a marital residence, vehicles, and some checking accounts to be divided, a high-asset divorce is far more complicated with many other issues to consider.
Spouses who find themselves embroiled in a high-asset divorce usually came into the marriage already carrying substantial wealth. Not always, but most of the time. It is the job of a divorce attorney handling these matters to preserve the wealth of his or her client. Many states consider marital property to be “community property”, meaning that everything, regardless of whether it was acquired before or after marriage, is divided equally among the parties. However, New Jersey is not one of those states. It determines what is known as equitable division, meaning that any property acquired prior to marriage is returned to its original owner, and property acquired within the marriage is divided equally among the parties.
A high-asset divorce will present challenges that are often unique to wealthy couples. Some examples of these include stock options, vacation properties, privately held business interests, offshore accounts, or valuable collections of artwork. In addition, it is of utmost importance to consult with an attorney who is experienced in tax planning. Future planning will need to take place when valuable assets are disbursed, taking into consideration things such as property tax.
In any high-asset divorce, both spouses would benefit from coming to the table with the expertise of an experienced attorney to assist with negotiations. Each party should have their own representation in order to best protect their interests, and ensure equitable and fair distribution.