Divorce is always stressful, but it can be intimidating when you have substantial assets to protect. The law provides for an equitable distribution of your property, but what seems fair to a Judge might not seem fair to you.

A Fort Lauderdale high-asset divorce lawyer understands the complexity of divorce for wealthy couples. Reach out to our divorce law attorneys as soon as you can to begin planning a strategy to ensure a fair division of property.

Property Division Fundamentals

Divorcing couples must agree to an equitable division of their marital property. Anything one spouse owned when they got married is their separate property and anything either spouse acquired during marriage is marital property. If the couple cannot negotiate a satisfactory agreement, a Judge will make the decision.

Florida law instructs a Judge deciding property division to begin with the premise that all marital property should be equally divided between the spouses. The Judge then should consider other factors that could favor one spouse taking more than 50 percent of the marital property, such as:

  • How long the couple was married;
  • Each spouse’s separate property;
  • Each spouse’s contributions to and sacrifices for the marriage;
  • Earning capacity of each spouse after the marriage ends.

Fault, such as adultery, is usually not a factor in property division decisions unless the at-fault spouse wasted marital assets.

Both spouses usually benefit from making their own agreement about property division. They have a clearer understanding of what is fair in their circumstances and which property is more important to each spouse. Collaborative divorce, mediation, and direct negotiation between the spouses’ attorneys usually produces better results than allowing the Judge to decide.

Wealth Complicates the Divorce

Couples with a high net-worth often have complex finances, and may have holdings in stocks, real estate, and valuable personal property like art or jewelry. Wealthy people often have diverse business interests and may earn income through complicated arrangements involving stock options, bonus payments, and deferred compensation schemes. All these must be untangled and understood before a couple can divorce.

Disclosure

Florida Rule 12.285 requires each spouse to disclose their holdings and assets. When large sums are at stake, one or both spouses might hire forensic accountants to verify the other spouse’s disclosure is accurate and nobody is hiding assets.

Valuation

Determining how much various assets are worth is often time-consuming and expensive. It may be necessary to hire appraisers, real estate specialists, business valuation experts, and others.

Typically, each spouse will submit a valuation, potentially causing the other spouse to dispute it and propose an alternative value. The spouses and their Fort Lauderdale attorneys often must negotiate to arrive at an acceptable value for their significant assets.

Tax Implications

Tax minimization often plays a part in the financial decisions of wealthy people. Divorce can interfere with tax planning and require a revised tax strategy. It is critical for couples with substantial assets to work with legal and tax professionals who can factor the tax impact of various decisions into the property division process.

Child Custody and Support for High-Asset Couples

The law favors parents splitting time with the children as nearly equally as circumstances allow. High net-worth individuals might have substantial work or social obligations, the need to travel frequently, or other demands on their time and attention. Making time-sharing arrangements can be challenging.

Child support obligations are also more complex when a family has substantial resources and the state has a formula that determines the minimum amount for children’s basic needs. Judges do not want children to suffer a significant change in their lifestyle due to divorce, so they may add obligations to pay for lessons, summer camp, travel, private school, and other benefits the children enjoyed when the parents lived together.

The parents must submit a parenting plan describing the parents’ arrangements regarding timesharing, parental decision-making, and child support. A Fort Lauderdale attorney can help a divorcing spouse with significant wealth create a parental plan that supports the children’s best interests.

Contact a Fort Lauderdale Attorney Today for Help with a High-Net-Worth Divorce

The complexities of divorce when there are substantial assets to divide can be overwhelming. An error or omission could have severe financial consequences, so working with the team at The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm is essential.

Schedule a free case evaluation with a Fort Lauderdale high-asset divorce lawyer as soon as you begin seriously considering dissolving your marriage. They can explain what steps you need to take to preserve your standard of living.