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If Your Divorce Involves Significant Assets

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Parties with high net worth and complex estates must take special care when it comes to the issue of the division of assets. The valuation and divisions of such estates can be challenging, particularly when it comes to estates that involve offshore or foreign assets.

At Laura Dale & Associates in Houston, we are thoroughly experienced with high net worth and complex estates, including estates with assets located in foreign jurisdictions. This experience gives our clients a distinct and clear advantage when it comes to presenting the facts of the case to the judge or jury, or for purposes of mediation and/or settlement.

Valuing And Dividing High Net Worth Estates | Complex Asset Portfolios

Equipped with in-depth knowledge of business management, our attorneys understand how to locate and value businesses and other domestic and foreign assets, including but not limited to:

  • Privately and publicly held companies
  • Stock options and employee benefit plans
  • Foreign employee benefit plans
  • Pensions, retirement accounts and severance packages
  • Professional practices and partnerships
  • Oil and mineral rights and royalties
  • Domestic and foreign real estate
  • Trusts
  • Life insurance policies, proceeds and annuities
  • Money market and other financial accounts
  • Patents and other intellectual property

Property division in Texas is based on the presumption that all property is community property unless it is proven to be separate property. Under Texas law, separate property is property acquired prior to marriage or during marriage by gift or devise (inheritance). The burden of proving the existence of separate property falls on the party making that claim.

The division of community property and the protection of separate property assets from claims by the community estate, or a spouse’s separate property estate, can become extremely complex when assets are commingled or hidden and are subject to tracing rules under Texas law. Financial restraining orders may also come into play.

Stock Options And Retirement Assets

To answer the question “What factors are considered in division of high net worth?” we must not neglect assets that are payable or potentially payable in the future. Stock options and retirement assets accumulated during a marriage should be considered during settlement negotiations.

Whether you are the higher-earning spouse or a dependent or lower-earning spouse in a high net worth divorce, it is imperative that you retain the best divorce attorney you can find. Attorney Laura Dale and other attorneys at the firm are prepared to help you take detailed inventory of all assets, including retirement accounts and assets more difficult to quantify, such as stock options. Know your rights and your full array of options available to you through intelligent settlement negotiations to protect your assets.

Stock options available through a high-earning spouse’s employment can be difficult to put a dollar figure on, but they are potentially high-dollar benefits. Timely advice from forensic accountants and industry leaders can help you protect your right to your proper share of these assets.

Retirement accounts may be divisible according to terms of a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). Contact a knowledgeable high-asset divorce attorney at Laura Dale & Associates to learn how our lawyers can advocate for your interests as retirement accounts are divided. We represent both men and women, including:

High-Asset Divorce FAQs

Laura Dale & Associates, P.C., is a full-service family law firm that provides men and women with skilled representation focused on protecting their rights and preserving their assets. Collectively, our attorneys have decades of experience and are equipped to handle even the most complex divorce and family law issues. Our attorneys are ready to answer all of the questions you may have about divorce and the divorce process.

Child Support, Spousal Support And Contractual Alimony

Spousal support, child support and contractual alimony are all issues that are often complex in cases involving high net worth families. Maintaining children in private schools, if accustomed, providing adequate support during divorce and contractual alimony are all important issues that must be addressed in these cases.

High-Asset Divorce FAQs

Laura Dale & Associates, P.C., is a full-service family law firm that provides men and women with skilled representation focused on protecting their rights and preserving their assets. Collectively, our attorneys have decades of experience and are equipped to handle even the most complex divorce and family law issues. Our attorneys are ready to answer all of the questions you may have about divorce and the divorce process.

What is a high net worth divorce?

Divorcing when you own valuable assets is not always about a specific amount but rather the complexity of all the involved assets. While there is no official threshold, a high net worth divorce generally involves assets worth $1 million or more.

What makes a high net worth divorce more complex than the average divorce?

Dividing any marital property can be complicated, but wealth and extremely valuable assets pose unique considerations. For example, valuing them demands precision, often involving many more steps than necessary in a typical divorce. If even one figure is wrong, it can drastically impact your share of marital property. Additionally, spousal support issues may add another layer of complexity.

What kinds of assets qualify as high-value property?

In a divorce involving a high net worth, divisible assets go beyond everyday items, often venturing into a world of complex and valuable holdings. Here are some examples of valuable property:

    • Valuable real estate and luxury property
    • Investment portfolios
    • Businesses and business interests
    • Offshore accounts and complex trust funds
    • Luxury goods (art, jewelry, boats, rare cars, etc.)
    • High-value pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement assets

The specific types of assets involved can vary depending on your unique circumstances.

How does Texas value and divide high-value assets?

In a divorce, all marital assets must be meticulously recorded and introduced into discovery. Accounting for all assets is the best means of ensuring fairness. Search for evidence like financial documents like bank statements, investment records and property deeds, to name just a few.

Each asset is categorized as marital (acquired during the marriage) or separate (owned before or inherited) property. Spouses can keep their separate assets but must share those acquired together as a couple.

Will I lose half my business in a divorce?

This does not have to happen. While Texas is a community property state, which means that marital assets will be divided, this may not mean you will lose your business. Even if it is determined that your business is community property, we will ask the court to leave the asset with you and work to obtain either an order or structured settlement that allows you to pay your judgment over time.

Will I be eligible for spousal maintenance?

If you have been married for more than 10 years and you do not have the resources, education or earnings potential to provide for your “minimum reasonable needs,” then you are eligible to receive spousal maintenance payments.

Will I have to provide spousal maintenance?

If your marriage lasted for more than 10 years and you were the primary breadwinner, you may have to provide spousal maintenance if your husband does not have the resources to provide for his own “minimum reasonable needs.”

I haven’t been the breadwinner in my marriage. How will I survive my retirement years?

You may not have been the breadwinner, but your contributions to the marriage were a part of your spouse’s success and you deserve to be compensated and maintain a comparable quality of life after your divorce. A good divorce attorney will tailor property division agreements and settlements to meet your needs, accounting for issues such as health insurance. They should strive to make sure assets are structured in a way that maximizes income streams for retirement so you are not left without resources as you move on with your life.

Will you need professionals to protect your interests?

Building a team of professionals to aid with your divorce and protect your interests can be incredibly advantageous. Examples of team members to consider adding include:

    • Accountants
    • Forensic accountants
    • Appraisers (real estate, art, etc.)
    • Business valuators
    • Lawyers (tax, divorce, real estate, etc.)

How do courts handle debts and liabilities in a high net worth divorce?

The equitable distribution process addresses liabilities as it does assets – by dividing them fairly between spouses. The court considers various factors like the marriage duration, each spouse’s contributions, individual earning potential and the established standard of living when distributing debt (and assets).

As with asset division, debts and liabilities may not be split equally between spouses.

What mistakes are possible in a high-asset divorce?

Even a minor misstep could pose significant consequences in the high-stakes arena of divorcing with wealth. Caution and careful attention to detail can help to prevent common but potentially harmful errors like these:

    • Not investigating and finding all assets
    • Hiding assets, accidentally or purposely
    • Navigating divorce without legal representation
    • Ignoring professional advice without careful consideration

Can you count on privacy in a high net worth divorce?

Unfortunately, a traditional litigated divorce is not confidential and does not ensure privacy.

Divorce mediation presents an alternative. It allows you to negotiate an agreement privately, shielded from scrutiny. It is entirely confidential and prevents your divorce from becoming a matter of public record.

Is mediation effective in resolving high net worth divorces?

High-asset divorces can indeed be resolved through mediation. For success, both spouses must be open to discussing their issues collaboratively under the guidance of an unbiased mediator. In addition to facilitating property negotiations, mediation is less adversarial than litigation and offers possible time and cost savings.

What should you look for in a high net worth attorney?

In a divorce with wealth and valuable assets at stake, putting experience on your side is an advantage. Look for a lawyer able to handle intricate financial matters with precision, leaving no stone unturned in the search for assets, while always treating you with the understanding and compassion you deserve.

Experienced, Recognized, Equipped To Handle Challenging Asset Division

Experience is paramount in this area of law, and at Laura Dale & Associates, we have lawyers who are board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and with our team of lawyers we are able to devote the necessary resources to your case for the protection of your separate property assets to obtain the best result for you when it comes to the division of your marital estate.

Prenuptial agreements and marital agreements are not unusual when individuals with high net worth marry. The attorneys at Laura Dale & Associates have experience in drafting, enforcing and challenging such agreements. Well-drafted prenuptial and marital agreements are an excellent way to protect property and minimize conflict.

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Contact our offices to consult with a high net worth divorce lawyer serving communities across Texas.

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