Considerations in a High Net Worth Divorce
May 26, 2023
Divorce is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult if you’re a high-net-worth individual. If you and your current spouse have more than $1 million in combined assets, your divorce may be considered “high net worth.” Many factors can complicate the situation, such as prenuptial agreements; identifying assets; evaluating assets, businesses, and investments; tax issues and accounting; and spousal support, child support, and child custody. On top of that, having a public divorce is difficult, too. Here, I’ll help you understand family law—and divorce—from the perspective of a skilled divorce attorney in Tennessee.
Identifying Assets and Dividing Them in Tennessee
One of the main tasks you’ll have to tackle during a divorce surrounds identifying assets, then dividing them. This is true of any divorce, but it can be particularly tricky for high-net-worth individuals.
Fortunately, Tennessee law makes things a little bit easier. Tennessee law classifies all property as either “marital property” or “separate property.” Property the couple gained after they were married falls into the “marital property” category. Likewise, if the couple acquired an asset before they were married, the court considers it “separate property.” If one party has significantly more separate property, the other may receive more marital property.
In addition, the state follows rules for what it calls “equitable divorce.” This means that parties do not necessarily split their assets 50/50 during a divorce. Instead, the court will decide how much each party receives based on several factors:
the age, income, financial costs, and financial needs of both parties;
the duration of the marriage;
how much time, work, and money each spouse contributed during their marriage;
each party’s economic circumstances at the time of the marriage; and,
each party’s tax liabilities.
This isn’t everything a court will consider, but it is uniform across the state—from Church Hill to Johnson City, Bristol, or anywhere else in Northeastern Tennessee. I am more than prepared to support you through your divorce questions and additional legal issues.
High Net Worth Divorces
Outside of the factors that everyone will need to consider in their divorce, high-net-worth individuals have a variety of variables that will be unique to them. Here are some of the most common.
Spousal Support, Child Support, & Custody
Spousal support is generally more common in high-net-worth divorces. That’s particularly true if one party has more income than the other. Child support may also contribute significantly to divorce, since children of high-net-worth individuals often incur expensive costs for things like private school, hobbies, lessons, sports, college tuition, and more.
Tax Issues & Forensic Accounting
Tax implications may also play a big role in a high-net-worth divorce. Taxes may relate to personal property, businesses, and more. A party in this type of divorce may need to perform some forensic accounting to locate hidden assets or determine which property is marital and which is separate.
Publicity of Your Divorce
One potentially unforeseen problem that high-net-worth individuals may run into is the publicity of their divorce. Journalists love writing stories about when wealthy or well-known individuals are having a difficult time, and divorces are a prime target for them. However, the right family law attorney will have strategies to protect a high-net-worth client from unwanted publicity.
Duration of Divorce Proceedings
Typically, an average divorce can take between four and six months. But the duration of divorce proceedings for high-net-worth individuals can be significantly longer. A high net worth divorce can sometimes take years to complete—especially if they’re contested.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
High-net-worth individuals usually get to where they are through hard work and dedication. As a result, they generally don’t have time to handle the complex inner workings of their divorce proceedings. That’s where a family law attorney can help.
A family law attorney can handle almost every aspect of your high-net-worth divorce. From filing court documents in a timely manner to gathering evidence and even representing you in court, legal counsel is a must for wealthy individuals during the divorce process.
Skilled & Straightforward Legal Guidance
If you’re searching for a knowledgeable, experienced attorney who will fight doggedly for you in your divorce, reach out to me. I’ve been practicing law since May of 1980, and in the decades since then, I’ve helped countless clients with their divorces. I’ve even experienced divorce myself, so I know what you’re going through. If you're looking for a straightforward, down-to-earth attorney to help you navigate your divorce, reach out and schedule a consultation.