Couples with high incomes and complex assets face special challenges in divorce. Properly valuing and allocating assets such as the components of an executive compensation package requires specialized knowledge from financial experts as well as your legal team. To protect yourself, you need to work with an attorney who understands high-net-worth divorce in Massachusetts.
The team at the Reade Law Firm is ready to assist. We work closely with you to help you prioritize your goals for property division, and advocate zealously on your behalf to gain your objectives, whether through cordial negotiations or intricate discovery and intense litigation. We also protect your interests when it comes to the complexities of calculating child support and alimony in a high-income situation.
When is a Divorce Considered “High-Net-Worth?”
While some firms set a precise limit on what they consider to qualify for high-asset treatment, we believe that any time a divorce involves difficult assets, it deserves extra care and attention to detail. Assets that should be handled carefully to ensure proper valuation and division include:
- Businesses such as restaurants
- Professional practices
- Specialized compensation such as stock options or restricted stock units
- Offshore bank accounts and trusts
- Commercial real estate
- Collectible antiques and art
- Complex trusts
In some cases, it can be difficult to locate all marital assets. To protect both spouses, it is often wise to consult professionals such as forensic accountants, business valuation experts, and private investigators. An expert can assist not only with locating and valuing assets, but also assessing increases in value and how those increases could be attributed to each spouse.
Advocating for Separate Property
In most jurisdictions, couples inventory assets and debts and determine which of these should be separate property owned solely by one spouse and which should be considered marital property to be divided. When a couple has a valid pre- or postnuptial agreement, the terms of that agreement might settle the question for many assets, including interests in closely-held businesses. In the absence of an agreement, the general rule of thumb is that property one spouse owns before the marriage is their separate property while assets acquired during the course of the marriage are jointly-owned, even if earned or purchased by only one spouse. However, in Massachusetts, courts can award property one spouse owned before the marriage to the other spouse if a judge finds that equitable. The separate property guidelines don’t apply as they do in other states.
An attorney can argue, however, that certain property should be considered to belong solely to one spouse for equitable reasons. For instance, if one spouse holds a shared interest in family legacy property and uses proceeds to maintain that property, an attorney might persuade the judge that this interest should not be divided as part of the marital holdings.
Division of Property
Massachusetts law provides a number of factors courts should consider when dividing property. However, there is no rule or guidance on the weight that should be given to each factor. Judges have considerable discretion to decide what a fair division of property should be. If a couple prepares their own division arrangement, the court is likely to approve it unless it appears fraudulent or unconscionable.
The Reade Law Firm Provides Personalized Support and Attention to Detail
In a high-net-worth divorce, it is important for your attorney to understand how to locate and value assets, and how to negotiate and advocate effectively to achieve an equitable result that protects your interests. At the Reade Law Firm, we take the time to understand all the details that make your situation unlike any other. Then we work tirelessly to ensure that you emerge from the divorce process poised to move ahead. For a confidential consultation, contact us today.