Each divorce case is unique depending on the couple, their situation, and more. High net-worth divorce, otherwise known as high asset divorce, are different from other standard cases. Such divorces involve more than 1 million USD in liquid assets. They involve much more substantial and usually much more complex property and assets that need to be divided between the couple.
These assets may be in the form of businesses; real estate including rental or vacation properties; bank and brokerage accounts; company shares, stock options and other forms of compensation than simple salaries; luxury automobiles, boats, and other vehicles; and artwork, antiques, and other unique furnishings.
As a famous rapper once said, “more money, more problems.” The uniqueness of and issues in valuing these assets makes these types of divorce cases more complex, emotionally draining, costly, and sometimes difficult to determine an appropriate and equitable division.
Although high asset cases can be more complex, the end result is the same as in other types of divorce cases: an equitable division of assets. Because of the nuanced complexities in high asset divorces, it’s important to recognize the differences before you begin the divorce process. This article outlines everything you need to know about high net-worth divorce in Arizona.
High Net-Worth Divorce in Arizona
Filing a dissolution case that involves multiple interests from business shares to high-value bank accounts and overseas assets is a complex process. It will require you to hire several professionals. You’ll first have to engage an attorney who has expertise in handling these types of cases. Secondly, you’ll need a forensic accountant and/or valuation expert who can inventory and calculate the value of such assets, businesses, and properties during your divorce.
Hiring expert valuators and accountants are going to be key to determining an equitable division of your assets and there is really no way these costs can be avoided if you are looking to obtain a reasonable and proper value for these assets. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Forgoing the cost of an expert, in the beginning, may well cost you your fair share of the assets at the end of the case.
High Asset Cases Take Longer
A high asset case may take years to finally settle or to become ready to go in front of the judge for final resolution Producing an inventory of assets and valuing the same, particularly when there is a number and variety of these assets, takes time. Taking shortcuts or quitting early may mean losing some or all of the value of an asset, to which you otherwise would have been entitled.
Identify and Value All Assets Sooner Rather Than Later
Going through a divorce can be like riding an emotional roller coaster. Identifying and valuing assets at the beginning of your divorce can help to divide them sooner rather than later. Considering the emotional imbalance that you’re yet to experience during your divorce; you might find out that you don’t know the value of your assets when you exit the marriage. Unfortunately, that’s a common mistake among those filing for divorce. Get an expert who will work with the attorney to determine the real value of your assets.
During the proceedings, you may likely lose access to certain documentation and records. Therefore get all the paperwork ready together with photocopies. Make a list of all inherited assets, be it from parents, aunts or uncles, or grandparents. Regardless of marriage, in Arizona, the inherited property is presumed to be your sole and separate property.
You must understand that it’s not all about dividing assets. High asset divorces also come with tax and other implications that may affect your financial plans and future responsibilities. If necessary, you’ll have to hire local tax professionals and experts to advise you on the best strategies to ease those burdens.
Child Support and Parenting Time
Child support is generally based on the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines set the basic child support amount the court can order, which is the presumptive amount the Court will use for child support unless you provide a sufficient and compelling basis for deviation from the Guideline calculation.
If you seek a child support amount greater than the basic child support amount established by the Guidelines, you must show the court that the basic child support is not only unfair and inequitable under the circumstances, but also that the higher amount is in the child’s best interest and is financially feasible for the paying parent. The court will consider the specific needs of the children in excess of the basic child support amount and other such factors in determining that a higher amount of child support beyond the normal Guideline calculation is appropriate – it will not be simply a measure of whether paying parent can afford it or the lifestyle that the children may have become accustomed to.
Before child support can be calculated, parenting time for each parent needs to be determined. Many times the main caregiver for the children during the marriage believes he or she will continue to be the main caregiver after divorce. This not necessarily true. The court will want the children to have frequent and meaningful parenting time with each parent. This can be different for each family but generally, the court will likely start with having the children to spend roughly equal time with each parent if possible.
Parenting time issues are usually difficult for the parents but they are especially difficult for the children. The children are already experiencing a change in their family. Splitting households and dividing time between the parents is stressful. Each parent should be sensitive to their children’s feelings and understand that the children love both parents. Discussing the divorce or talking negatively about the other parent only adds to the children’s stress.
Best Advice When Involved in High Asset Divorce
Be reasonable and respectful to your spouse. It isn’t always that simple but that’s when having an experienced attorney is going to be the key to your success. This is the time to act as rationally as you can, even in the face of your irrational ex. The more reasonable you are to your ex, the easier it will be for you to manoeuver through this process.
If you are in constant fights and battles with the other side, you’ll have a mountain to climb during the divorce process and more trouble reaching a fair settlement. Furthermore, your divorce could ultimately cost you more than necessary because of your behavior and actions.
If your spouse continues to be unreasonable and disrespectful and therefore causes a delay in the resolution of your case, the court can sanction him or her for their actions. Arizona judges are not impressed with immaturity from either side. Your behavior during the proceedings has a lot to do with whether you’ll win or lose.
Find an Attorney Experienced in High Net-Worth Divorce
Remember to find an experienced divorce attorney and treat the divorce process as just a critical business decision. If you approach your divorce this way, you will come out on the other side in a better place financially, physically, and hopefully mentally. An experienced high asset lawyer will be your guide, best friend, adviser, and shoulder to lean on during the entire separation process.