You can win — or lose — a lot in a high-net-worth divorce. Hiring an attorney with extensive experience in the recognition, valuation, and distribution of high-value assets is critical to securing a favorable settlement.
Why High-Net-Worth Divorces Are Difficult
Handling high-net-worth assets can be challenging. You must identify, value, and distribute both tangible and intangible assets, including unconventional assets such as phantom stock and deferred wealth accumulation plans.
This is an arduous undertaking under any circumstances but especially when your spouse makes an attempt to hide assets by:
- Concealing accounts
- Setting up trusts in your children’s name
- Converting assets into cryptocurrency
- Refusing to hand over documentation
Sadly, these situations happen more often than you might think. The ensuing failure to consider all assets can cost you in the divorce settlement.
Which High-Value Assets Are Subject to Recognition, Valuation, and Distribution?
Any tangible and intangible high-value asset can be subject to recognition, valuation, and distribution, including:
- Real estate
- Liquid assets
- Offshore financial assets
- Private equity holdings
- Intellectual property
- Pension and retirement accounts
- Closely held businesses
- Trademarks and royalties
- Art and antique collections
- Forgivable loans
- Tax loss carryforwards
- Complex trusts and expectancy interests
- Qualified and non-qualified investment portfolios
- Specialized compensation assets like stock options, phantom stock, restricted stock units, and performance stock units
How Does Distribution Work in High-Value Divorces in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts courts use the principle of equitable distribution to decide which assets will go to you and which — to your spouse. Note that “equitable” does not mean equal, but it does mean your share must be proportionate to the time, resources, and services you invested in the marriage.
If your spouse is a high-net-worth individual and you aren’t, it can be easy to undervalue your contribution to the marriage. Many clients find it difficult to ask for an equitable share that reflects the time spent raising children or providing moral and logistical support. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you negotiate an adequate settlement, including spousal support.
Do’s and Don’ts in High-Net-Worth Divorce Cases
Knowing how to navigate the divorce process is crucial when divorcing a wealthy spouse.
- DO keep detailed records: Keeping track of assets, taxes, spending, and financial documentation is key to preventing attempts to hide assets.
- DO consider future value: The value and tax consequences associated with assets like stocks, cryptocurrency or businesses fluctuate over time.
- DON’T be afraid to ask for an equitable share: Do not undervalue your contribution to the marriage just because you are the lower earner.
- DON’T forget about tax: Different assets have different tax treatments. Some, like stocks and shares, may be subject to income tax, while others will accrue capital gains tax.
Going Through a High-Net-Worth Divorce in Massachusetts? Call Us.
You shouldn’t navigate a high-net-worth divorce alone. Call our experienced legal team at Koiles Pratt Family Law Group at 978-744-7774 or contact us online for a confidential consultation with a high-net-worth divorce lawyer. We serve clients in Salem, MA, and throughout Eastern Massachusetts.