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Special Considerations in High Net-Worth Divorces

Special Considerations in High Net-Worth Divorces

Divorce entails many considerations concerning financials, childcare, and how to pay for legal expenses. For those with high net worth, dividing assets and debt with their spouse can be an agonizing and confusing process, leaving everyone feeling insecure about life after divorce. Here are three specific aspects that you must take into consideration when dealing with your high-net-worth divorce:

Asset Division

A major consideration when navigating a high-net-worth divorce dividing assets between the spouses. Classifying assets is crucial for the division process. Identifying assets as marital or nonmarital is one part of the process. Marital assets are subject to being divided between the spouses. Nonmarital assets are exempt from being divided between the spouses and belong only to one spouse or the other. Placing a value on marital assets is another component of dividing marital assets. Classifying marital assets as active or passive is a crucial part of the valuation process in high-net-worth divorces that is often unnecessary in other divorces. Active assets increase in value largely due to the active efforts of a spouse to increase that value. This often comes in the form of a business started during the marriage. Passive assets increase in value primarily due to market forces. This often comes in the form of investments. Placing a value on both kinds of assets for purposes of dividing them is not as simple as one may think.

Assistance from a divorce attorney is vital to this process, as their input can aid in dividing more complex assets such as stock options, business interests, and other assets that need to be analyzed to be properly valued. Additionally, a divorce attorney often works alongside other financial experts, such as tax experts, forensic accountants, and appraisers, during this process for maximum accuracy in determining the value of assets subject to being divided between spouses.

Alimony

Couples with high-net-worths often live a lifestyle commensurate with their greater financial means. Under New Jersey law, alimony is intended for the spouse of lesser financial means to maintain a lifestyle reasonably comparable to the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. Determining what that lifestyle exactly was for purposes of calculating alimony is rarely a straightforward process. The couple’s marital spending needs to be categorized and analyzed to determine the marital lifestyle. Without doing so, it could be impossible to determine a fair and equitable amount of alimony to be paid from one spouse to the other.

Child Support

Determining child support payments can be a stressful process for both parties involved, especially within the context of high net-worth individuals. In New Jersey, child support is calculated with help from the State’s Child Support Guidelines which is essentially a formula. The Guidelines, however, only apply to families with a combined net income of $187,200 or less. If your family’s combined net income exceeds that amount, calculating child support becomes more complicated because whatever award determined by the Guidelines must be supplemented by a discretionary award based on the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a).

The factors under this Statue are not a formula like the Child Support Guidelines are. It requires a thorough financial and practical analysis involving factors like the needs of the child, standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent, and age and health of the child and each parent.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements have become more common. Prenups identify assets earned before the marriage. Postnups identify assets earned before and during the marriage. Prenups and postnups usually predetermine the amount of alimony a spouse is to receive or state that neither spouse will pay alimony to the other. Without a prenup or postnup, the lesser earning spouse can request alimony during the divorce process and the amount of any alimony will have to be determined pursuant to the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b). The factors under the statute include, but are not limited to, the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage and each spouse’s assets, income, health, education, and employability.

A valid marital settlement agreement in New Jersey must be in writing and signed by both parties. When a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement needs to be taken into account in a divorce, an experienced family law attorney can aid in implementing it into a final marital settlement agreement.

Our Divorce Lawyers Are Here for You

Need help navigating a divorce with a high net worth? Contact one of the Moskowitz Law Group’s dedicated divorce attorneys for advice in safeguarding your assets and ensuring you review all special considerations in high-net-worth divorces.

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